The U.S. surgeon general said on Sunday he was concerned about what lies ahead with increasing cases of COVID-19 in every state, millions still unvaccinated and a highly contagious viral variant spreading quickly.
Noting that nearly all coronavirus deaths are now among the tens of millions who have not received vaccines, despite the widespread availability of vaccines, Dr Vivek Murthy painted a troubling picture of what the future may hold. .
“I am worried about what will happen because we are seeing an increase in cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And if, if you are vaccinated, you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, this is unfortunately not true if you are not vaccinated ”, Murthy said on CNN “State of the Union.”
Last week, COVID-19 cases in the United States increased by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall, and an increase in deaths historically follows a peak disease. Much of the worsening problem is due to the delta variant first identified in India, which has since hit the UK and other countries, Murthy said.
While the number of cases and hospitalizations in the United States is still well below the levels of the worst of the pandemic earlier this year, Murthy said the worsening situation shows the need to convince more people to to get vaccinated.
“It is our fastest and most efficient way to get out of this pandemic”, he said.
About 186 million Americans received at least one injection, but another 90 million eligible Americans did not. Authorities are trying to overcome the refusal of some – especially conservative rural whites – to get vaccinated, but it’s unclear how to do it. So, for now at least, some places have reverted to health precautions that had been put aside.
In Las Vegas, some resorts and casinos are again requiring employees to wear masks in response to a recommendation issued by health officials amid rising rates of COVID-19 cases in Nevada; it ranks fifth among U.S. states for the most new cases per capita over the past two weeks.
Los Angeles County reinstated rules on Saturday night requiring everyone to wear masks inside public buildings. Around the San Francisco Bay Area, which has some of California’s highest vaccination rates, health officials have recommended that everyone wear masks again inside public buildings, which regardless of their vaccination status.
But in conservative Alabama, where hospitalizations from COVID-19 have more than doubled in a month and where only about a third of the population is fully vaccinated, authorities have refused to reinstate world-wide health rules. ‘State or use gadgets such as lotteries to increase vaccinations.
“I think the best thing to do is to encourage everyone to use common sense and exercise personal responsibility and make themselves and their families safe,” Governor Kay Ivey told reporters last week.
Cases are also on the rise in Springfield, Missouri, where Mayor Ken McClure told CBS-TV “Facing the nation” that false information about the pandemic was hampering the fight to get people vaccinated.
“I think we see a lot going on on social media as people talk about their fears, their health-related fears, what it might do to them later in life, what could be in vaccines “, he said.
Murthy, the surgeon general, said “not enough” progress has been made in tackling social media misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Individuals, not just platforms like Facebook, need to tackle the problem, he said.
“Each of us has a decision we make every time we post something on social media, and I’m asking people to pause and see, is any source correct? Does it come from a scientifically credible authority? And if not, or if you are not sure, do not share ”, he said.