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PA, Nation at ‘Pivotal Moment’ in COVID-19 Pandemic

Rising COVID-19 case counts spur call to get vaccinated

August 03, 2021

Pennsylvania Transmission of Delta Variant IncreasesState and federal officials are urging the general public to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as cases and hospitalizations continue to increase with the spread of the Delta variant.

In a letter to elected officials last week, Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force urged local leaders to support the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

“We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic—a moment that has already passed in states like Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana—where we can either stand by as COVID evolves into a disease that hospitalizes people at rates rivaling the COVID we knew in 2020, or we can redouble our vaccination efforts and work together to protect the progress we have made and avoid the consequences of widespread infection,” the letter said.

In Pennsylvania, more than 63.2 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. While cases are still well below the winter peak, Pennsylvania’s seven-day average daily caseload has nearly quadrupled during the past three weeks, highlighting the need to promote vaccination, the state’s COVID-19 vaccine task force said.

Twenty-nine Pennsylvania counties have high or substantial spread of the virus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That is up from six counties with high or substantial levels of community transmission last week.

“Low case counts and high rates of vaccination in eligible people are what keep all of us, including the immunocompromised and children under 12, safer as we return to our normal routines,” the letter said.

Federal public health officials offered a similar call-to-action this week during their national briefing with media members. Among the important takeaways:

  • Delta variant transmissibility:  The CDC estimates that you could infect about five other unvaccinated people if you get sick with the Delta variant—more than twice as many as the original strain. People who are infected with the Delta variant have higher viral loads, which prompted the CDC to update its mask guidance last week
  • Breakthrough cases:  Breakthrough cases remain uncommon but can happen, as the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. The vaccines are working extraordinarily well to prevent hospitalizations and death. As of July 26, the CDC has received 6,587 reports of breakthrough infections that resulted in hospitalization or death among 163 million fully vaccinated people, a rate of about 0.01 percent
  • Vaccination and community transmission:  States that have higher vaccination coverage have lower rates of cases. As of Saturday, the seven-day moving average for cases was about 72,000 per day, an increase of 44 percent from the prior seven day period

“In all of this, there is still good news,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH. “Our vaccines are working to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations, and death.  Vaccines are providing protection both for individuals and communities across the country.”

HAP continues to encourage everyone who is eligible to make an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and to contact their health care provider for more information. The vaccine is free, safe, and effective, and is widely available across the U.S. Getting vaccinated helps protect yourself and your community, and brings us closer to the end of the pandemic.

For more information, contact Robert Shipp III, PhD, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, HAP’s vice president, population health and clinical affairs, or Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration.