Covid deaths on the rise once more within the U.S. after weeks of decline, CDC says

A nurse disinfects her hands as she leaves a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient room in the intensive care unit at SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Jan. 28, 2021.

Nick Oxford | Reuters

Coronavirus deaths are picking up again as the Delta variant tears through unvaccinated pockets in the country, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

“After weeks of declines, the seven-day average daily deaths rose 26% to 211 per day,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a press conference.

New cases are also on the rise, with a current seven-day average of 26,300 cases, according to the CDC. That is around 70% more than the seven-day average of the last week.

The seven-day average for hospital admissions is now 2,790, which is about 36% higher than a week ago after weeks of declines.

In light of the new numbers, Walensky said the pandemic has now become a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally doing well,” Walensky said.

Only four states accounted for more than 40% of all new cases in the past week. One in five cases occurred in Florida alone.

The five states with the highest number of cases, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada, all had higher vaccination rates compared to the national average.

The US reports an average of 530,000 vaccinations per day over the past week, according to the CDC. More than 3 million shots per day were reportedly administered at peak levels in mid-April.

According to CDC data, about 65% of Americans 12 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 56.5% are fully vaccinated.

Walensky claimed that the Pfizer and Modern Vaccines are still highly effective against the Delta strain, although studies have shown reduced effectiveness of the vaccines over the highly transmissible variant.

Israel Ministry of Health released preliminary results showing the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine in preventing infection from the Delta variant at 64%. The study also showed similar effectiveness in preventing serious illness from the virus variant after two doses. Some experts have criticized the Israeli study, citing problems with Israeli genome monitoring.

Other Studies by Public Health England and The Lancet put Prevention rates for the Delta variant after two doses of a Pfizer vaccine at much higher numbers. Walensky also cited numbers “exceeding 90%” in mRNA vaccine protection against hospitalization and death against the Delta variant.

CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.

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