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90 percent of U.S. counties have high or substantial COVID-19 rates

Nation’s public health leaders back booster shots for immunocompromised

August 12, 2021

Map showing community spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Ninety percent of U.S. counties are reporting high or substantial transmission of COVID-19, the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team reported today.

During a press briefing, the nation’s leading public health officials urged unvaccinated individuals and pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine, citing growing concerns about the hyper-transmissible Delta variant. They also announced new recommendations for booster shots for the immunocompromised.

“We are dealing with a global outbreak of the Delta variant,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor.

Among the key takeaways from the briefing:

  • Case counts:  There were 132,000 new cases reported yesterday. The U.S. has reported increases in the seven-day average for cases (113,000, +24%), hospitalizations (9,700, +31%), and deaths (452, +22%)
  • Pregnancy:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging pregnant people and those thinking of becoming pregnant to get vaccinated, as research has shown that pregnant women are at greater risk for severe illness and complications from the virus
  • Breakthrough infections:  COVID-19 vaccines continue to prevent severe disease, resulting in mild symptoms in the large majority of breakthrough cases, Dr. Fauci said
  • Booster shots:  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will recommend a COVID-19 booster dose for the immunocompromised to improve their protection from the virus. About 3 percent of adults would qualify for the boosters

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet tomorrow to discuss booster shots for the immunocompromised and provide recommendations. The booster shots would be targeted at people with weakened immune systems, such as those who received organ transplants and certain cancer patients, officials said.

Dr. Fauci said the CDC would evaluate data assessing booster shots for the general public, but no recommendations have been made at this point.

“This is a dynamic process, and the data will be evaluated,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, 52 counties have high or substantial spread of COVID-19, according to statistics from the CDC. That’s up from about 30 counties with high or substantial transmission early last week.

Pennsylvania also reported 2,089 positive COVID-19 cases, 908 hospitalizations, and 224 patients in the intensive care unit due to the virus.

Notably, 77 percent of all U.S. counties report high transmission of the virus. That’s up 12.76 percent from seven days ago.

“By far, those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director.

HAP will continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 public health developments and provide updates to members. A replay of the White House’s COVID-19 briefing is available online.

HAP strongly encourages everyone who has questions about the COVID-19 vaccines to contact their health care provider. The COVID-19 vaccine is critical to our effort to limit the spread of the Delta variant and to protect our communities. The vaccine is free, safe, and widely available in your community.