PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — COVID-19 is on the rise again, prompting officials to worry about a holiday wave over Thanksgiving next week. Timing is now critical as officials urge more people to get vaccinated and get their booster shots.
Officials say 73% of adults in Pennsylvania are fully vaccinated, but the state still has a growing number of COVID cases. Pennsylvania is the only state on the East Coast that is a COVID hotspot.
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After a big drop in July, cases in Pennsylvania have steadily increased with thousands of new infections every day, with the highest concentration in the southwestern part of the state.
“In some parts of the country, we’re starting to see a bit of an uptick,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The policy lab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia predicts that the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania will continue to rise through December 6.
Although there is a growing number of breakthrough cases, most new infections mainly occur among people who have not been vaccinated.
“It’s hard because it’s a lot of preventable diseases,” said registered nurse Katie Kruzel.
Nationally, COVID-19 numbers are also on the rise, with at least 20 states reporting a growing number of cases.
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“We are now seeing very clear evidence of declining vaccine effectiveness over time,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner. “Anyone who is eligible for a booster, and most Americans are probably eligible for a booster right now, should go out there and look for it.”
The timing of the vaccine is now critical with Thanksgiving just days away and many predict another wave.
“We’re going to see a peak after the holidays, there are no questions about that,” Gottlieb said. “People are exhausted now, but we must remain vigilant.”
But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still only recommend boosters for those at high risk. Despite that guidance, they are easy for anyone to get.
“When in doubt, take the damn booster,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
Murphy expressed his frustration at the low booster rates.
“We know that part of the hesitation in people getting a booster is because of confusion about whether they meet the CDC’s eligibility limits,” Murphy said.
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Also Monday was the deadline in Philadelphia for people working in health care and higher education to be fully vaccinated. They are not allowed to work without an approved exemption.