National public health officials urge unvaccinated people to stay home during Labor Day weekend
AS the reported summer surge of the COVID-19 delta variant rages on, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend that eligible people get vaccinated and urge caution to those who are still unvaccinated.
Ahead of the long Labor Day weekend, the CDC is warning against travel for unvaccinated individuals in order to safeguard immunocompromised individuals and children under 12 years old (who are presently ineligible for the vaccine) against the “more transmissible and more contagious” delta variant.
“Everyone who is eligible should get fully vaccinated from COVID-19 before they travel, and vaccinated people still need to take precautions such as masking and social distancing,” Dr. Cindy Friedman, chief of The Travelers’ Health Branch at the CDC, said in a briefing with ethnic media on Thursday, Sept. 2.
Currently, the CDC reports an average of 150,000 positive COVID-19 cases a day nationally — a significant spike from June’s average of 12,000 cases a day.
“We’ve experienced a number of waves in this pandemic and unfortunately now we’re in the midst of a fairly large surge that is related to a number of factors including the delta variant, which is a more transmissible variant,” Dr. Peggy Honein, who is head of the State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support Task Force of the CDC’s COVID-19 response.
Currently, about 53% of vaccine-eligible people are fully vaccinated; 82% of those include people who are 65 years or older and 40% of those include young people aged 12 to 17.
Despite the wide availability of the vaccine in the United States, the gaps in vaccinations are largely due to skepticism about vaccines in general among specific communities. The CDC recommends that everyone who is eligible for the vaccine get their shots, especially if they plan to go out in public and participate in the upcoming holiday season.
“This pandemic continues to take a major toll despite the availability of proven medication measures and very effective vaccines,” Honein said.
Across the country, there are 12,000 hospitalizations and an average of 1,000 deaths a day. This brings the cumulative total to 640,000 deaths and 40 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Though children have largely been safe from the worst effects of COVID-19 (i.e. hospitalization and death rates are much lower for children than for adults), the CDC reported on Friday, Sept. 3 that children’s hospitals across the country have been filling up with COVID-19 cases.
From June to August of this year, emergency room visits were 3.4 times higher in states with the lowest vaccination rates and hospitalizations were 3.7 times higher than in states with the highest vaccination rates.
Coinciding with the quick spread of the delta variant, the rate of hospitalization for unvaccinated teenagers was 10 times higher in August than it was in June.
“This really emphasizes the role the community can play in protecting children,” Honein said. “We can do our part in protecting children by vaccinating as many people who are 12 years old or older and using other mitigation strategies like universal masking and physical distancing.” n