BOSTON (SHNS) – Eighty-three percent of counties across the United States are now experiencing “high” or “substantial” transmission of COVID-19, and the seven-day national averages for new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all up from the previous week, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
“Across the board, we are seeing increases in cases and hospitalizations in all age groups,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing on COVID-19. “Those at highest risk remain people who have not yet been vaccinated. We know these vaccines are working, and we know they save lives.”
In Massachusetts, the latest Department of Public Health data shows that 4,375,020 of the state’s roughly 7 million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The CDC now classifies virus transmission levels as high or substantial — where it recommends that even vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public places — in 12 of the 14 Massachusetts counties, with only Franklin and Hampshire counties landing at the lower “moderate” level. Transmission is high in Nantucket, Bristol, Barnstable and Dukes counties and substantial across the rest of the state.
Like national figures, the statewide average for new cases of the virus and COVID-19 hospital admissions are also up over the week. The most recent seven-day average of new cases stood at 626.1 on Aug. 3, up from 564.6 on July 27, according to DPH figures. The seven-day average number of hospitalizations rose from 132.3 to 206.
The seven-day average of COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts declined from 4.1 on July 27 to 1.4 on Aug. 3.
The age range that recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts over the last two weeks were people in their 20s, according to DPH data updated Wednesday.
People between ages 20-29 accounted for 2,037 new cases, followed by 1,596 among people in their 30s, 997 in youth ages 10-19, 934 among people in their 40s, 919 in people in their 50s and 822 in kids age 9 and younger.
The new case numbers were smaller among older populations, with 538 for Bay Staters in their 60s, 272 for people in their 70s, and 160 among those age 80 and up.
Nationally, case growth is driven by the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus and “concentrated in communities with low vaccination rates,” said White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients.
“Vaccinations are the very best line of defense against COVID and the Delta variant, and we’re doing everything we can to keep getting shots in arms, and we are seeing results,” Zients said.
He said Florida and Texas alone account for about a third of new cases and more than one-third of new hospitalizations over the past seven days, and seven states that together make up less than a quarter of the country’s population — Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi — account for about half of the week’s new cases and hospitalizations.
Those states, Zients said, have some of the lowest vaccination rates. However, he said, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi “are now vaccinating people at a pace not seen since April.”
Other states are picking up the pace of vaccination as well — Tennessee has seen a 90 percent increase in first shots over the past two weeks, and Georgia 66 percent, Zients said.
Zients said the U.S. recorded 864,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours, including 585,000 first shots.
“Clearly, Americans are seeing the impact of being unvaccinated and unprotected, and they’re responding by doing their part, rolling up their sleeve, and getting vaccinated,” he said.