The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel during this Labor Day weekend due to the surging number of coronavirus cases largely driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.
“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday during a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, adding that the fully vaccinated should also take necessary precautions if traveling this weekend.
According to the latest data compiled by the CDC, more than fifty-two percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, while about sixty-two percent have had at least one shot.
Throughout the pandemic, health experts have asserted that vaccination is the best way to protect against the virus, and many have attributed the recent spike in cases to the large numbers of Americans who remain unvaccinated.
The Delta variant, first detected by scientists in India last fall, has already spread to more than one hundred fifty countries and has become the dominant strain here in the United States—representing more than ninety-five percent of all sequenced cases, the CDC says.
The current seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases in the United States now stands at roughly one hundred sixty thousand—which is more than ten times higher compared to just two months ago and more than twenty percent higher compared to two weeks prior, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, CDC has also confirmed that nearly one million coronavirus vaccine booster shots already have been administered over the past two weeks.
President Joe Biden’s administration has noted that it would rely on officials at the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if there is any need to adjust the previously planned rollout of booster shots at eight months after receiving two coronavirus vaccine doses. It had suggested that there is a possibility that the timeline could be moved up by three months.
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday stated that those who previously were infected with the virus still should eventually get vaccinated because their immunity protection will likely diminish over time.
“The immunity conferred by natural infection seems to be robust and seems to be durable. We know it lasts at least six months, probably longer. My hunch is it’s not going to last in perpetuity. At some point, those individuals are going to need to get vaccinated,” he said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
“With SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), we saw people who got more sick ended up having more durable immunity. We don’t know if that’s the case with this SARS-CoV-2 virus, but it might be,” he continued.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.