WASHINGTON — Fully vaccinated persons made up 74% of a summer COVID-19 outbreak studied by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC looked at coronavirus cases in Barnstable County, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. The findings were released Friday as fears of COVID’s Delta variant sparks renewed mask mandates and a growing list of private and public sector vaccine requirements for workers.
The CDC study shows in July there were 469 COVID cases in the Massachusetts study. Three quarters of them (74% or 346 of the cases) were fully vaccinated with 87% of those breakthrough cases among men.
Concerns about the Delta variants and frustrations with slowing mass vaccination efforts have resulted in renewed mask mandates in workplaces, at universities and schools and from some governments.
President Joe Biden told reporters Friday there will likely be fresh COVID-related restrictions because of variants and concerns about spreads. He also continues to press for more Americans to get vaccinated.
“The vaccine was developed and authorized under a Republican Administration, and it’s been distributed and administered under a Democratic one. The vaccines are safe, they are highly effective, and there’s nothing political about them,” Biden said.
The CDC study, however, complicates the conventional narrative that unvaccinated persons are the major causes of spreads of the virus.
The Biden administration is pushing back against some media reports of the CDC Massachusetts study.
“Three days ago the CDC made clear that vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country.Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated,” said Ben Wakana, a White House aide who served on Biden’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, via social media.
“Let’s be clear. If 10 vaccinated people walk into a room full of COVID, about 9 of them would walk out of the room with no COVID. Nine of them,” said Wakana in another statement.
Still, Gibraltar and Iceland have high vaccination rates, 99% and 71% respectively, but also have seen recent spikes in coronavirus cases. The Delta variant — which health officials say is more transmissible and can result in more hospitalizations than other COVID strains — is also worrisome for areas of the U.S. and other parts of the world, such as India, Africa and Latin America, where access to health care is limited and vaccination rates are low, according to health officials.
In the U.S, some major employers including Disney and Walmart are requiring COVID vaccines for workers. Biden is also requiring vaccines for federal workers and those who don’t get shot will have to wear masks and submit to testing. Facebook, Netflix and Google are also requiring vaccines among employees. Many other workplaces are requiring masks in adherence to the CDC’s Delta-driven guidance.
The Walmart vaccine requirement is for corporate employees. Walt Disney Co. is the parent company of the Disney theme parks, ABC, ESPN, Hulu and National Geographic.
Hospital systems and universities across the region and country are also requiring staff and students to be vaccinated. The Americans with Disabilities Act does offer religious and medical exemptions from vaccine mandates. School districts are looking at whether to require students to wear masks in classrooms with the new CDC mask guidance telling the fully vaccinated and unvaccinated to wear masks indoors in crowded spaces.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has also said there are some instances where the fully vaccinated might want to consider wearing masks, including outdoors, because of the variant and to help protect the unvaccinated, including children.
All that is prompting pushbacks from those concerned about civil liberties and shifting health policies. U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md-1st., is among conservatives criticizing new mask mandates being imposed on Capitol Hill by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The number of COVID cases is rising in Maryland and other parts of the U.S.
The Maryland Department of Health reported 526 new COVID cases on Friday and 587 new cases on Saturday, including seven new deaths attributed to the virus. New cases are up from lower levels seen this summer but hospitalizations and deaths are lower than during more intense periods of the pandemic.
There are 231 hospitalizations statewide attributed to COVID as of July 31. That is lower than the more than 1,900 COVID hospitalizations in Maryland in January.
In Talbot County, there are 20 active cases and the positivity rate for COVID tests is at 5.59% locally.
The same metric is at 2.87% in Maryland. Health agencies like to see positivity rates below 5%.
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