The United States is once again seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. As of July 22, 35% of U.S. counties are experiencing high levels of community transmission. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in nearly 90% of U.S. jurisdictions, and we are seeing outbreaks in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage. These worrisome trends are due, in part, to the rapid spread of the highly transmissible B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources and could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
An increase in COVID-19 cases also creates more opportunities for the virus to mutate, which could lead to the emergence of new variants. Variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are now responsible for all cases in the United States. The original strain is no longer detected among variants circulating throughout the country. The B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant is now the predominant variant in the United States, making up an estimated 83.2% of recent U.S. cases. The best way to slow the emergence of new variants is to reduce the spread of infection by taking measures to protect yourself, including getting a vaccine when it’s available to you.
COVID-19 is now a preventable disease. The COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States are safe and are effective against B.1.617.2 and other variants. If you receive a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, you will need 2 shots to get the most protection. You should get your second shot even if you have side effects after the first shot, unless a vaccination provider or your doctor tells you not to get it. If you are only partially vaccinated, you are more likely to get infected, get sick, and spread the virus to other people. When you are fully vaccinated, you are protected against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.