Due to the surge of Covid-19 cases, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts.
“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.
Walensky said that while people who are fully vaccinated can travel with precautions, current transmission rates mean they too need to take Covid-19 risk into consideration when deciding whether to travel.
Health experts have said that vaccination is the best way to protect against the virus’ spread, and many have attributed the spike in cases to the large portion of Americans who are unvaccinated.
Of those eligible for vaccinations, which includes Americans 12-years-old and older, 38.6% are not yet fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.
This week, data presented by a CDC vaccine adviser showed a hospitalization rate 16 times greater in the unvaccinated population than in those vaccinated. And the surge in hospitalizations, particularly among unvaccinated people, has stretched hospitals thin.
In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little said the state has reached a point in the pandemic “we have not seen before” with more Idahoans in the ICUs than ever before. He stressed multiple times that the “vast majority” are unvaccinated.
“Yesterday evening I toured a nearly full ICU wing in Boise. What I saw was heartbreaking,” he said Tuesday. “Some were young, two were middle-aged, two patients were pregnant… All of them were struggling to breathe and most were only breathing with help from a machine.”
He said medical staff are “exhausted,” so the state is adding up to 370 additional personnel to help.
A new case study published Tuesday illustrated the impact of gatherings of large groups of unvaccinated people.
In June, attendees met for a five-day overnight church camp and a two-day men’s conference in Illinois, neither of which required vaccination, testing or masks. By August, 180 Covid-19 cases were connected to the events, including five hospitalizations, according to the investigation, conducted by the CDC and the Illinois Department of Public Health.