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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are down 15% this week, but the downward trend will not last if the millions of unvaccinated Americans remain unprotected, White House health officials said on Friday.
“The people who are unvaccinated, when they see the curve starting to come down, that’s not a reason to remain unvaccinated,” Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a White House briefing. “It is not an excuse to walk away from the issue of getting vaccinated.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, reported that the 7-day average of daily cases is 106,400, and hospitalizations are down to 8,300 per day ― both representing a 15% decrease from last week.
Although 185 million Americans are fully vaccinated, that leaves 70 million eligible residents who have not gotten the shot.
“You want to ensure that we get down to a very low level and to make sure we don’t surge again; we still need to get a very large proportion of those 70 million people who are eligible and not vaccinated yet vaccinated,” Fauci said.
What’s more, only 31% of pregnant people are vaccinated, with 15% of Black pregnant people immunized.
Walensky reported new data showing that COVID-related deaths are substantially higher in states with lower than 50% vaccination rates. At the peak of the summer Delta surge, she said, states with low coverage had twice the infection rate of states with more vaccinated residents.
“These data make two points abundantly clear,” she said. “First, COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID- 19. Second, high vaccination coverage in your community translates to fewer cases, less of a burden on your local health care system, lower disease rates in classrooms, and better health for those around you.”
Fauci also reported new data from Israel showing the effectiveness of booster shots. The number of active severe COVID-19 cases in people over 60 years old was 174.2 per 100,000 in those who were unvaccinated, and 33.7 in those with two doses. For people who had gotten two doses plus a booster, the number was only 3.4 per 100,000.
Vaccines for children 5-11 years old are also on the horizon, the White House said. Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their trial data to the FDA and could soon be given the green light.
Meanwhile, employers are continuing to require vaccination for employees. On Tuesday, United Airlines announced that 99% of its employees are now vaccinated, up from 59% before the requirement announcement.
The number of job postings requiring full vaccination jumped 20 times in last 2 months, said Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 coordinator.
White House: “White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing,” Oct. 1, 2021.
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