US COVID-19 cases no longer declining; Delta variant's rapid spread — 4 things to know

Reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are no longer dropping and began to plateau around June 8, according to CDC data.   

Four things to know:

1. The U.S. vaccination campaign has slowed, and nearly a third of Americans are hesitant about getting vaccinated, reports The New York Times.

2. The delta variant, first identified in India, now accounts for about 10 percent of U.S. cases and is doubling every two weeks, Scott Gottlieb, MD, former FDA commissioner, said June 13 on CBS's Face the Nation. The variant is likely to become the dominant strain in the U.S. and could lead to new outbreaks this fall, with unvaccinated Americans the most vulnerable, according to Dr. Gottlieb. 

3. The delta variant appears to be more contagious and more severe than earlier variants, though vaccines seem to protect against the variant, reports the Times. In southeast China, where the variant has been spreading, "Patients are becoming sicker and their conditions are worsening much more quickly," according to the Times. "The delta variant is by far the most contagious variant of this virus we have seen in the entire pandemic," Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, dean of Providence, R.I.-based Brown University School of Public Health, said June 13. "The good news is the data suggests that, if you've been fully vaccinated, you remain protected, that the vaccines hold up." 

4. Public health officials are underscoring the importance of persuading more Americans to get vaccinated. A global vaccination program could also save millions of lives worldwide, reports the Times.


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