CDC: Delta variant seen in more than half of coronavirus cases in US

Jul 10, 2021, 1:01 PM | Updated: 1:03 pm
Delta variant Coronavirus COVID-19 deaths in Utah...
The CDC's model of the coronavirus is show. Credit: CDC via CNN
Originally Published: 06 JUL 21 03:04 ET
Updated: 07 JUL 21 04:06 ET

(CNN) — The Delta variant, a more transmissible and possibly more dangerous strain of coronavirus, now makes up more than half of all new Covid-19 infections in the US, according to estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Delta accounts for 51.7% of new infections in the US, according to the CDC. The B.1.1.7, or Alpha variant, which has dominated for months, now accounts for 28.7% of cases, the CDC said.

RELATED:  12 counties in Utah now in Covid-19 high transmission category

“If ever there was a reason to get vaccinated, this is it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday.

The variant poses a “significant threat,” to unvaccinated people Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.

The variant is not only more transmissible, it can also cause more severe disease, Fauci said.

And people in areas where the vaccination rate is low are especially at risk, health officials say.

“We’re already starting to see places with low vaccination rates starting to have relatively big spikes from the Delta variant. We’ve seen this in Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming … those are the places where we’re going to see more hospitalizations and deaths as well, unfortunately,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

RELATED: Utah COVID-19 vaccine sign up information

“Any time you have large outbreaks, it does become a breeding ground for potentially more variants,” Jha said.

The US is already grappling with variants that are more contagious than the original strain of novel coronavirus. They include the “stickier” Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, which is currently the dominant strain in the US, and the even more contagious Delta (B.1.617.2) variant, which is on track to become the dominant strain in the US, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“When it does, it mutates, and it could throw off a variant mutation that is even more serious down the road.”

Parts of the South, Southwest and Midwest are starting to see spikes in cases, and many of those states — such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi — are among those with the lowest rates of vaccination, according to the CDC.

RELATED: More than 10% of Utah’s population has now had COVID-19

States with below-average vaccination rates have almost triple the rate of new Covid-19 cases compared to states with above-average vaccination rates, according to recent data from Johns Hopkins University.

And since vaccines are highly effective but not perfect, some health experts say they will wear masks in certain places despite being fully vaccinated.

“If you’re in a low-infection, high-vaccination area, you don’t need to be wearing a mask indoors if you’re fully vaccinated,” Jha said.

But “if I were in southwest Missouri right now, I’m fully vaccinated, but I would be wearing a mask indoors.”

Israeli analysis vaccine may not be as effective against Delta as thought

While many health experts have said available vaccines offer protection from variants now circulating, an analysis in Israel suggests the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — the one that Israel chose to inoculate its citizens with — may not be as effective as was previously found there, possibly because of the Delta variant.

The Israeli government said in a brief statement on Monday that as of June 6, the vaccine provided 64% protection against infection. In May — when the Alpha variant dominated in Israel and the Delta strain had not yet spread widely — it found that the shot was 95.3% effective against all infections.

The government added that the vaccine was now 93% effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations, compared to 97% reported in the medical journal The Lancet in May.

Israel didn’t release the data used in its analysis.

Israel is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with more than 60% of the population fully inoculated and two-thirds having received at least one dose.

A team at Hebrew University said in a separate statement that it was too soon to tell how much the Delta variant was affecting vaccine efficacy.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, was also cautious about drawing conclusions.

“Best data still suggest mRNA vaccines offer high degree of protection against infection and superb protection against severe illness. Lets await more data but as of now … If you’re vaccinated, I wouldn’t worry,” he tweeted.

Unvaccinated young adults help fuel the spread

If there is another Covid-19 surge, unvaccinated young adults could be a big part of the problem, said Dr. Megan Ranney, associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University.

“We’ve already seen that the highest number of infections over the past few months have been in those younger adults,” said Ranney, who’s also an emergency physician and director of the Brown-Lifespan Center for Digital Health.

“These are the people that thought they were invincible.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he’s encouraging parents and grandparents of those ages 12-35 to push them to get vaccinated.

“The young people out there are the ones that are dragging their feet. The sun is shining, they’re out of school, all is good in the world and everything, yet they don’t really realize that they could be the transmitters that could be passing this on to someone that’s going to die,” he said during a Tuesday briefing.

As concerns of the delta variant increase, Justice said, “if you’re not vaccinated, you’re part of the problem rather than part of the solution, that’s all there is to it.”

As of Tuesday, only 47.5% of Americans have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

More than 11,000 new Covid-19 cases have been reported every day over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. About 200 Americans are dying from Covid-19 every day.

Much of the suffering is unnecessary and preventable with vaccines, emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen said.

“We have the ability to stop Covid in its tracks,” she said.

On the other hand, all 50 states have fully vaccinated more than 60% of seniors, CDC data shows, from about 62% in Utah to 94% in Vermont.

Missouri hospital transfers Covid-19 patients to other facilities

In Missouri, one hospital has been under such strain that Covid-19 patients are being transferred to hospitals in different health systems.

CoxHealth had 94 patients hospitalized for Covid-19 as of Monday, said Kaitlyn McConnell, a CoxHealth public relations director.

At Cox South, a hospital in Springfield, 12 Covid-19 patients were transferred to other facilities in the region between Friday and Monday morning.

“While we have ample supplies and space to care for additional patients, staffing remains a challenge,” McConnell said. “Divert is not a permanent status; we only use it temporarily, it is tied to capacity at a particular moment in time and based on what is best for staff and patients.”

The health system had about 170 Covid-19 patients last winter and 280 traveling staff members to help with the response, McConnell said.

Now the system is struggling to meet the current demand — without the extra help.

“We are aggressively working to have more travelers return — and hire more staff, as we have throughout the pandemic — but it is currently a challenge due to times of year that travelers tend to be available,” said McConnell.

In recent weeks, CoxHealth has transferred patients to facilities in Kansas City, St. Louis and out of state to Arkansas.

But now Arkansas is starting to feel the effects of low vaccination rates — and if worsening trends continue, it could spell another surge, said Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

“Arkansas, which has a very low vaccination rate, has seen over a hundred percent rise in daily cases over the last two weeks,” CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner said.

As of Sunday, Arkansas’ average rate or new Covid-19 cases was about five times higher than the national average, according to Johns Hopkins data. It’s also one of the least vaccinated states in the country.

What could this mean for a return to school?

Children who are unvaccinated are still at high risk for infection, Wen said.

She said she disagreed with governors such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has banned public schools from requiring face masks.

“These governors that have said that schools no longer need masks indoors, that’s a big mistake,” Wen said.

Considering mental health concerns and educational outcomes, Wen said she thinks it’s best to have kids back to school — full time and in-person this fall.

But even mild cases of the Covid-19 can have long-term impacts for children, so safety precautions shouls be taken, she said.

Even vaccinated parents of unvaccinated children may want to wear masks indoors, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Because vaccines are highly effective but not perfect, he said it’s possible adults could get breakthrough infections and pass them to their children.

“We haven’t formally proven yet how much diminution there is in the likelihood of transmitting it to someone else — including children — and that’s one of the reasons why you’ve got to be careful when you’re dealing with something like the Delta variant,” he said.

The best protection against variants, health experts say, is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

COVID-19: Vaccine Watch

A sign reading "immunizations" hangs over a desk. COVID-19 vaccines Utah...
Samantha Herrera

Where to find a COVID-19 vaccine provider for children 5 and under in Utah

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for children as young as 6 months old, but where can you find a vaccine provider for your child in Utah?
13 days ago
A child is comforted after getting his COVID-19 vaccine....
Samantha Herrera

More COVID-19 vaccines ordered in Utah for children as young as 6 months

32,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months and older have been ordered by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.
14 days ago
This combination of 2022 and 2020 file  photos shows logos for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control...

Marathon US hearings to decide fate of COVID shots for tots

On Wednesday, both Moderna and Pfizer will argue their case. Each company aims to offer a different dose and number of shots.
26 days ago
FILE - A vial of the Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen ready for use in the trial at St. ...
LOLITA C. BALDOR Associated Press

New vaccine may be option for troops with religious concerns

At least 175 active duty and reserve service members have received the Novavax vaccine. Some have traveled overseas at their own expense to get it.
27 days ago
utah student achievement COVID-19...
Simone Seikaly

Utah student performance knocked down during COVID-19 restrictions

A review of multiple Utah student performance exams found "significant impacts" in mathematics achievement across grades.
1 month ago
COVID-19 vaccine...

Opponents of federal vaccine mandate seek rehearing

Mr. Biden issued an order Sept. 9 that more than 3.5 million federal executive branch workers undergo vaccination, with no option to get regularly tested.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
CDC: Delta variant seen in more than half of coronavirus cases in US