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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky during a Senate hearing in May 2021. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Adult deaths from COVID-19 are "at this point entirely preventable" thanks to vaccines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Deaths from the virus have dramatically decreased since their peak in early 2021, but the U.S. is still currently reporting an average of more than 200 deaths every day, though the numbers could increase as the B.1.617.2 (or Delta) variant of the virus becomes the dominant strain in the country.

The big picture: NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is currently the greatest threat to the elimination of the coronavirus in the U.S. because it's more transmissible and associated with increased disease severity than the most common variant of the virus.

  • However, all available vaccines are still effective against the Delta variant, meaning it primarily poses a risk to people who are unvaccinated.

What they're saying: "This new virus forced too many of our families to accept death as an outcome for too many of our loved ones, but now this should not be the case," Walensky said.

  • "We have the tools, so let's use them and crush the outbreak," Fauci said.

Go deeper: New coronavirus variant gains foothold in the U.S.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker
Oct 1, 2021 - Health

Before Merck backed COVID antiviral, Trump admin turned it down

Photo illustration: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Trump administration officials fought over whether — and ultimately declined — to fund the same antiviral drug that Merck announced yesterday significantly reduces hospitalizations and deaths among coronavirus patients.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's decision almost certainly delayed the development of the drug. Having an effective antiviral pill during the Delta wave could have substantially reduced its death toll.

Oct 1, 2021 - Health

North Dakota hospitals reaching critical capacity

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) and medical officials are urging the public to help reduce the need for hospitalizations as hospitals are at "redline capacity."

Driving the news: North Dakota's six largest hospitals reported 43 patients were sent to other facilities and 29 patients were waiting in emergency departments to be admitted, the state announced Friday.