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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

Oct 18, 2021 - Health

Over 30 states have limited officials' public health powers

Photo: Ringo Chiu/AFP via Getty Images

Republican lawmakers in more than 30 U.S. states have weakened health officials' authority to implement policies to protect the public against the coronavirus, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers in all 50 states have introduced bills to curb state and local officials' public health authority.

Florida's secret delta toll

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Roughly 4,500 Tampa Bay residents — an average of about 36 per day — died from COVID-19 over the four months the Florida Department of Health did not share daily pandemic information with citizens.

Driving the news: The data is now available and gives a clearer picture of the heartbreaking toll of the latest record-breaking spikes from the delta variant — which is only now subsiding — between June and October.

Oct 18, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Minnesota offers cash and chance at $100K scholarship as vaccine incentive for teens

Expand chart
Data: Minnesota COVID-19 Response; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Minnesota is offering new incentives to shot-wary teens in an effort to boost the state's COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Driving the news: 12 to 17 year olds who get both doses over the next six weeks will receive a $200 Visa gift card, Gov. Tim Walz's administration announced Monday.

  • Kids vaccinated during this period can also enter a lottery for one of five $100,000 scholarships to attend any of the state's public or private colleges or universities.

Why it matters: Public health officials say increasing vaccination rates among young Minnesotans is key to curbing spread of the virus, especially in schools.