Republicans Join Democrats in Calling Out the Unvaccinated as COVID Cases Rise

As COVID-19 cases have trended up in the past few weeks, numerous elected officials have pointed to unvaccinated Americans as a main catalyst for the surge.

During a White House COVID-19 briefing last week, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that COVID-19 is "becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

"There is a clear message that is coming through, this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Walensky said. "We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage, because unvaccinated people are at risk.

Walensky noted that those who are fully vaccinated are "protected against severe COVID, hospitalization and death," as well as the highly transmissible Delta variant.

"If you are not vaccinated, you remain at risk," Walensky added during the press conference.

President Joe Biden echoed Walensky's remarks last Friday when he told reporters at the White House that "the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated."

Biden then made similar comments on Wednesday night during a CNN Town Hall where he told Americans that it is "gigantically important" to get vaccinated and said, "We have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten the vaccination — it's that basic, that simple."

In addition to Biden, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra also recently used the term "pandemic of the unvaccinated," while visiting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Las Vegas.

"If you are dying today in America from COVID, it's because essentially you're unvaccinated," Becerra added.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci also recently made similar comments surrounding a rise in COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations among those who are unvaccinated.

"We're seeing it in the data," Zients said during a White House COVID-19 briefing last Friday. "Unvaccinated Americans account for virtually all recent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. Each COVID-19 death is tragic. And those happening now are even more tragic because they are preventable."

During an interview with NBC's Meet the Press earlier this month, Fauci said, that most of the recent COVID-19 cases "are avoidable and preventable," if they were vaccinated.

"The overwhelming proportion of people who get into trouble are the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we say this is really entirely avoidable and preventable," Fauci said.

Several Republican elected officials have also suggested that unvaccinated Americans are causing the rise in COVID-19 cases.

During his weekly press briefing earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said if more Americans don't get inoculated against the virus, "we're going to be back in a situation in the fall that we don't yearn for—that we went through last year."

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey also made similar comments, both stating that the rise in COVID-19 cases in their respective states were mostly among those who are unvaccinated.

During a news conference last week, Reeves said that over 90 percent of new cases in the state "are amongst those who are not vaccinated."

"I continue to encourage my fellow Mississippians to get vaccinated," Reeves added.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ivey said that it's "time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks," amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in Alabama.

"The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks," Ivey continued. "Almost 100 percent of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain."

According to data from the CDC, since July 13, the U.S. has reported over 30,000 new cases per day, with more than 55,000 reported on Wednesday. Comparatively, in late June, the U.S. was seeing daily case counts below 20,000.

The COVID-19 Delta variant has also led to an increase in cases and Walensky recently announced that the variant now makes up 83 percent of cases in the U.S., an increase from the 50 percent she reported last week.

As elected officials have stressed the importance of vaccines, data from the CDC shows that at least 56 percent of Americans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 48.8 percent are now considered fully vaccinated.

Newsweek reached out to the CDC for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Updated 07/23/2021, 2:26 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a new headline.

Officials call out unvaccinated for COVID surge
Numerous elected officials have recently pointed to unvaccinated Americans as a cause for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Above, syringes of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be administered in Reno, Nevada on December 17, 2020. Patrick T. Fallon/Getty