Health officials urge caution and COVID-19 vaccination as Delta variant spreads

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Health officials from the local to the federal level are sounding the alarm when it comes to the COVID-19 Delta variant as 49 states and territories see at least 10% increases in cases.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy told ABC News that he is deeply concerned, and says re-instituting mask requirements is reasonable and probably necessary to stop the spread.

"I'm worried that what we're starting to see increases in states like Arkansas and Missouri and Nevada and my home state of Florida and Louisiana," said Murthy.

He said the surges are within the unvaccinated population, and that we will continue to see those surges unless we "get ahold of this pandemic by getting more people vaccinated."

Pennsylvania reports administering 5.6 million full vaccinations, with the CDC stating 50.5% of the total population is fully vaccinated.

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Hospitalizations are up, with unvaccinated Americans making up more than 97% of COVID-19 patients. Los Angeles County officials are reimposing mandates like requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors, including the vaccinated.

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Family physician Dr. Delana Wardlaw said the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks.

"Aside from coronavirus deaths, we have to also battle the long haul of symptoms people have, the long-term effects on their heart, their lungs, their memory," said Dr. Wardlaw.

Residents say they are staying alert.

"From my perspective, it's important for me to continue protecting myself and those around me just because the pandemic is still here. But the reality is people are acting like it's not," said Kristen Langdon of Merion Station, Pa.

"I'm cautious," said Karen Vogel of Penn Valley, Pa. "l feel that's the smart approach because we don't know who's around us."

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