The unwelcome surge of the delta variant in the United States has led to an unusual trend: the number of coronavirus cases and vaccinations are both on the rise.
The United States hit a grim target on Friday, reporting more than 100,000 daily cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ― a number not seen since February, before coronavirus vaccines were widely available.
The virus — with its more contagious strain — is infecting mostly unvaccinated people.
And the rising case number seems to be driving vaccine uptake.
“The past week has been our strongest week of vaccinations since early June, in terms of first-time shots,” tweeted White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain.
More than 816,000 doses were reported administered as of Sunday evening over the day’s prior totals, and among them were about 517,000 getting vaccinated for the first time, according to Cyrus Shahpar, White House COVID-19 Data Director.
“Since the week of July 5, there has been a steady increase in the number of people who are getting vaccinated in the U.S.,” Shahpar said.
Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser warned that more “pain and suffering” were on the horizon, during an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Things are going to get worse,” he warned, but said further lockdowns in the country remained unlikely.
“I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country — not enough to crush the outbreak — but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter,” he said.
Some Americans are lamenting their reluctance to get a vaccine.
Michael Freedy, a 39-year-old father of five, died Thursday after contracting the virus and being admitted into intensive care in July. His fiancée Jessica DuPreez, 37, told The Washington Post that Freedy had not been opposed to vaccination but like many Americans wanted to wait to learn more about how people reacted to the vaccines.
“I should have gotten the damn vaccine,” Freedy texted DuPreez amid his battle with COVID-19.
Now bereaved, DuPreez has a simple message for the nation: Get the vaccine.
This sentiment was echoed by Tennessee state Rep. David Byrd (R) who went from attending unmasked gatherings to a harrowing struggle with coronavirus that included 55 days on a ventilator.
He, too, urged Americans to get vaccinated. “It is a disease that wants to kill us,” Byrd, 63, said in a statement, adding that his family had at least once begun planning for his funeral.
Stefano Pitrelli contributed to this story.