The warning comes from Anthony Fauci , the White House adviser on infectious diseases, who foresees a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country if corrective measures are not taken.
And is that the United States, the country with the most deaths in the pandemic , faces a dangerous outlook.
While in the last week of June the country registered some 92,000 new cases, in the seven days of last week the figure exceeded 500,000 confirmed infections.
And while malarial illness has been less lethal, less than 3,000 deaths per week in front of over 20,000 a few months ago, the spread of variant d elta of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is out of control in some states.
The focus of the problem: the unvaccinated
Earlier this week, Vivek Murthy, the US surgeon general – a position that accredits him as head of the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service – said that 99.5% of recent deaths from covid-19 in the country have occurred among unvaccinated people .
Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, explains to the BBC that the main problem of the increase in infections is concentrated in one region of the country.
“It’s particularly serious in probably six or seven states. The southeastern states and some states in the American Midwest,” Plescia says.
Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma are states where less than 40% of its population is completely vacunad to (in contrast, in the region of the Northeast, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, the vaccinated population exceeds 65%).
In addition, the governors of the states with the lowest vaccination – mostly Republicans – have expressed skepticism about federal prevention policies since last year.
The spread of the delta variant
A problem that accompanies low vaccination rates in some US states has been the spread of the d elta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes covid-19.
Being more contagious than others , this variant has spread more quickly among people who have not received any dose, as explained by both authorities and public health experts.
“That’s where we are really seeing these significant increases. In other parts of the country where vaccination rates are higher, we are not seeing a big problem, although even in those states we are beginning to see it. Things are creeping up,” says the Dr. Plescia.
States that have not lagged so far behind in vaccination, such as Florida (48.5%), are among those that have begun to double or even triple infections and hospitalizations .
While at the beginning of the pandemic it was known that someone could be infected by being 15 minutes in front of a virus carrier without a mask, according to epidemiologist Celine Gounder, the delta variant spreads exponentially faster.
“The equivalent to that with the delta variant is not 15 minutes, it is one second, ” Gounder says in an article on the STAT health portal.
Fauci said health authorities are evaluating whether people vulnerable to the virus should receive an additional booster dose.
The disuse of masks
Unlike last year, this summer Americans are back on vacation, attending concerts and sporting events, or eating at crowded restaurants without the use of masks or much social distance.
The lifting of those recommendations advanced rapidly from May 13, when the president of the United States, Joe Biden, said that those fully vaccinated could return to their normal life without the use of the mask.
But as the pandemic has resurfaced, authorities have begun to wonder if it is necessary to return to the old policy .
“We are seeing that in Los Angeles. We are seeing that in Chicago. We are seeing that in New Orleans,” Fauci told CNN. “The officials there, many of them, say that even if you are vaccinated it is prudent to wear a mask indoors.”
Plescia, for its part, considers that the vaccine is the solution above the masks.
“As far as we know from science, that’s a solid policy. I mean people who are fully vaccinated, because we have very good vaccines. They are very, very effective, fortunately,” he tells the BBC.
“Even in those cases [of the delta variant], these people are unlikely to become seriously ill or end up in hospital or end up dying,” he adds.
The vaccine, mandatory?
Both public authorities and associations have begun to debate whether vaccination should be a requirement for workers in certain essential areas.
In a joint statement, dozens of medical associations on Sunday spoke in favor of the inoculation of health workers as a requirement to work in hospitals.
“Vaccination is the main way to leave the pandemic behind and avoid the return of strict public health measures,” the 60 signatory associations say in their letter.
Local authorities from New York to California have also raised it.
And this Monday the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to issue a work requirement to its employees – which includes health personnel – the vaccine against covid-19.
Although the White House has ruled out imposing mandatory vaccinations for public employees, it has left open the possibility for companies to do so.
“We certainly support these actions by these hospital associations,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday.
And public opinion is divided: according to a survey of the Politico site and Harvard University published this month, one 66% support healthcare workers should be vaccinated to work.
Instead, they were almost equally divided on whether to require other workers to do so.