Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. are rising again, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, sounding the alarm over what she described as a "pandemic of the unvaccinated."
In a news briefing Friday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the most recent seven-day average of new Covid-19 cases was roughly 26,300 — a nearly 70 percent jump over the previous average. New hospital admissions went up 36 percent to about 2,790 per day. Daily deaths edged up 26 percent to 211 per day — a sobering figure given that deaths appeared to be declining in recent weeks, Walensky said.
"There is a message that is crystal clear: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Walensky said. "We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk."
Pfizer-BioNTech announced earlier Friday that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted priority review designation to its application for full approval of its Covid-19 vaccine. The companies said the target date for a decision from the FDA is January 2022.
Although the state of the pandemic is not as dire as it was in January, when the U.S. was averaging nearly 200,000 cases per day and the entire country was facing a high level of transmission, Walensky warned that the highly contagious delta variant will continue to spread in counties and states with low vaccination rates.
"If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk," she said.
People who are fully vaccinated are protected against severe Covid-19, including the delta variant, Walensky said.
She added that federal public health officials are concerned that "we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths among the unvaccinated."
More than 160 million people across the U.S. were fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to data compiled by NBC News.