White House to send ‘surge teams’ to delta variant hot spots


The White House is readying COVID-19 “surge teams” to send to communities with low vaccination rates to help combat the rapidly spreading delta variant of the coronavirus, officials announced Thursday.

The teams will work with local public health authorities to conduct contact tracing, and will distribute supplies as needed or requested by states, such as therapeutics and additional tests.

The teams will also help augment staffing at local vaccination sites.

White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said the administration will also increase advertisements about the benefits of vaccinations in hot spot communities.

A warning: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned that the highly contagious delta variant is the most serious risk to unvaccinated communities. She said an estimated 25 percent of all infections nationwide are attributed to the delta variant which was originally found in India.

Walensky said there are about 1,000 counties in the country that have vaccination coverage of less than 30 percent, primarily in the south, east and Midwest.

No mask change: Walenksy and Anthony Fauci reiterated that there will be no change in CDC guidance about mask wearing. Getting vaccinated means you are mostly protected from severe illness and death, even from the delta variant. It’s the unvaccinated who have to worry. Walensky said initial data from the past six months has shown 99.5 percent of deaths from COVID-19 in a select group of states occurred in unvaccinated people.