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Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The more transmissible Delta variant now accounts for 83% of COVID-19 cases in the United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said during a Senate hearing Tuesday.

Why it matters: The "dramatic increase," up from 50% on July 3, has led to a rise in virus-related deaths, Walensky told lawmakers.

  • COVID fatalities have risen by nearly 48% since last week to an average of about 239 per day, according to Walensky.

What they're saying: The CDC director also said that the percentage of cases from the Delta variant is "even higher" in some parts of the country, "particularly in areas of low vaccination rates."

  • "To date, our data indicates that vaccines are available to neutralize the circulating variants in the United States and provide protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death," Walensky added.
  • "The message from CDC remains clear: the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants is to prevent the spread of disease and vaccination is the most powerful tool we have."
  • "Each death is tragic and even more heartbreaking when we know that the majority of these deaths could be prevented with a simple, safe, available vaccine."

Go deeper

Jul 19, 2021 - World

Vaccine boosters in rich countries risk longer wait in poorer nations

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The rapid spread of the Delta variant around the rich world has injected increased urgency into the debate around booster shots, but the World Health Organization and public health experts are trying to keep the focus on getting vaccines to those who don’t yet have access.

Why it matters: Israel last week became the first country to offer boosters to people with weak immune systems, and Pfizer is pushing for rapid approval of boosters in the U.S., citing preliminary data that suggests immunity may begin to wane after six months.

Pelosi says it's her "plan" to appoint GOP Rep. Kinzinger to Jan. 6 committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that it is her "plan" to appoint Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to the House select committee investigating the deadly Jan 6. Capitol riots.

Why it matters: Pelosi's statement to ABC's "This Week" comes after she rejected two of the five Republican appointments offered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).