The head of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Friday that the COVID-19 outbreak is becoming a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, with sizeable nationwide increases in the number of new cases and deaths.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced that the most recent seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in the US stands at about 26,300, a 70% increase over the previous seven days.

The Delta variant of COVID-19 now accounts for about 58% of new cases.

The number of virus deaths in the last seven days has jumped by 26%, to an average of 211 per day. Over 90% of those deaths are coming from the unvaccinated. The total US death toll, since the start of the pandemic last year, stands at 608,000.

“The message is crystal clear,” said Walensky. “This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We are seeing outbreaks in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

But the surge in new cases, while most directly affecting the unvaccinated, is also having an effect on everyone else. In Los Angeles county, health officials have mandated that everyone must start wearing masks again, inside public places, regardless of whether they have gotten the vaccine.

On Thursday, the county reported that in one month’s time, the number of new cases had jumped from 210 to 1,500, the highest number since March. The county also said that of its roughly 10 million residents, about 4 million are still not vaccinated.

Walensky said the increases in new deaths were especially sobering considering that the death rate had been declining in recent months. In fact, for a precious few days, some larger cities, such as Chicago, were reporting zero deaths per day.

With many mass vaccination sites now shutting down, the Biden administration is targeting specific pockets of the country where vaccination rates are low.

Volunteers will go door-to-door, touting the benefits of the vaccine. And the White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said on Friday there was reason for some optimism. He said that in places where the virus is surging, there are signs people are seeking the vaccination at a faster rate than in the rest of the country.

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