As the United States is going into the holiday weekend, celebrating the country’s Independence Day and the progress it made in the fight against the coronavirus together, the Biden administration is facing new challenges – the continued spread of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant and low vaccination rates in several parts of U.S. communities.

While the country continue to see overall low numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, a reverse upward trend was noticed in new cases in the past few days.

Although the seven-day average of about 12,600 cases per day is a 95 percent decrease from the peak in early January, it also reflects a 10 percent increase in the seven-day average from last week.

Providing an update on the state of the pandemic at a routine press briefing Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the Delta variant is predicted to be the second most prevalent coronavirus variant in the United States, and that she expects that in the coming weeks it will eclipse the Alpha variant.

An estimated 25 percent of all reported SARS-CoV-2 sequences nationwide are the Delta variant. And in some regions of the country, nearly one in two sequences is the Delta variant.

Dr.Walensky told reporters that currently, approximately 1,000 counties in the United States have vaccination coverage of less than 30 percent.

These communities, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest, are the most vulnerable. Some of these areas are already reporting increasing rates of disease. “As the Delta variant continues to spread across the country, we expect to see increased transmissions in these communities, unless we can vaccinate more people now,” according to the CDC chief.

Preliminary data from a collection of states over the last six months suggest 99.5 percent of deaths from COVID-19 in these states have occurred in unvaccinated people.

Only 20 US states have reached President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of its population by July 4, the New York Times reports.

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said that dedicated teams are working with communities at higher risk for or already experiencing outbreaks due to the spread of the Delta variant and their low vaccination rate.

The COVID-19 surge response teams will focus on increasing shots in arms in communities with low vaccination rates, including through targeted paid media into these areas, he added.

The White House has announced plans for large celebrations in communities across the United States on Fourth of July to celebrate what it called “independence from the virus.”

In a symbolic gesture, more than 1,000 people consisting of military and frontline workers will gather on the White House lawn.

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