WASHINGTON — The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. is becoming "a pandemic of the unvaccinated."
Speaking during a White House briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said cases in the U.S. are up about 70% over the last week, hospital admissions are up 36%, and deaths rose by 26%. Nearly all hospital admissions and deaths, she said, are among the unvaccinated.
White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients echoed the pandemic is "one that predominantly threatens unvaccinated people."
Zients said the Biden administration expects cases to increase in the weeks ahead because of spread in communities with low vaccination rates. Four states accounted for 40% of new cases last week, with one in five coming from Florida.
The other states with the highest number of new cases were Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada.
"If you're unvaccinated, please get vaccinated now," Zients said. "Vaccines work. It's safe. It's free. It's readily available, and it's never been more important."
Zients added there are signs that increased cases are driving more people in those communities, including Florida, to seek vaccination at rates faster than the national average.
Zients said U.S. health officials are preparing for the possibility of booster shots "if and when the science shows they are needed."
"At this time, the CDC and FDA have said Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need a booster shot," Zients said.
The CDC and FDA are conducting "rigorous" research to determine if and when booster shots will be needed and who will have to get one, according to Zients.
"We are ready for whatever the science tells us," Zients said. "We have secured enough vaccine supply. And if needed, we will ensure Americans who might need a booster shot are able to get it quickly and easily."