New coronavirus cases have been rising across the United States, though cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain a fraction of their peaks.,

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The Delta variant makes up an estimated 83 percent of U.S. cases, the C.D.C. director says.

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Delta Variant Accounts for 83% of Virus Cases

Health officials testified before the Senate that the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus was spreading rapidly across the country, particularly in areas with low levels of vaccinations.

“C.D.C. has released estimates of variants across the country, and predicted the Delta variant now represents 83 percent of sequenced cases. This is a dramatic increase from, up from 50 percent for the week of July 3. In some parts of the country, the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates. 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.” “It has now been detected in at least 90-plus countries throughout the world. The reason it’s so formidable is the fact that it has the capability of transmitting efficiently from human to human in an extraordinary manner, well beyond any of the other variants that we’ve experienced up to now, which has led to its becoming the dominant variant in this country.” “We are at a point of great promise and peril in the fight against Covid-19. While I am encouraged by the fact that two-thirds of adults in our country have received their first dose of vaccine, I am alarmed by how the rate of vaccination has been slowing, and how driven by the Delta variant, rates of Covid-19 cases and deaths are once again on the rise.” “Covid won’t just go away. We need all Americans who can get the vaccine to get the vaccine. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your friends, your families, for your neighbors and your local community. Do it for your grandchildren, so they can go back to school. Do it for your grandparents, so they can finally go out and eat.”

Health officials testified before the Senate that the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus was spreading rapidly across the country, particularly in areas with low levels of vaccinations.CreditCredit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

July 20, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ET

The highly infectious Delta variant now accounts for an estimated 83 percent of new coronavirus cases in the United States — a “dramatic increase” from early July, when it crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the dominant variant in this country, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

In some regions, the percentage is even higher — particularly where vaccination rates are low, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the C.D.C. director, said during a Senate health committee hearing. Two-dose vaccines have been shown to be effective against the Delta variant but questions have been raised about Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose regimen against Delta. While almost 60 percent of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, less than half of the total U.S. population is.

She said the C.D.C. would update its website later Tuesday to reflect the new estimate of Delta cases, which the agency derives from gene sequencing of new coronavirus cases.

The new figure comes as new cases have been rising across the United States, though cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain a fraction of their peaks. Still, public health experts are watching the increases with deep concern and Dr. Walensky warned last week that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The seven-day average now shows more than 35,000 new daily cases, up from about 11,000 a day not long ago, according to a New York Times database.

Tuesday’s hearing was contentious at times. Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, pressed Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on when the F.D.A. would authorize booster shots — and was not happy when she could not provide a specific answer. Federal health officials have said booster shots are not necessary now and have pressed Pfizer for more evidence.

Other Republicans clashed with witnesses over matters including mask mandates, booster shots for Covid-19 vaccines and “gain of function” research designed to identify genetic mutations that could make a virus more powerful.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, escalated his long-running attacks on Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s top medical adviser for the coronavirus pandemic, and accused Dr. Fauci of committing a crime by lying to Congress in May when he told senators that the National Institutes of Health did not fund “gain of function” research at a laboratory in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the pandemic’s early days.

Dr. Fauci, in turn, accused the senator of falsely implying that the N.I.H. is somehow responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths from the pandemic — an extraordinary exchange for the Senate, where witnesses almost always defer to lawmakers.

“I have never lied before Congress and I do not retract that statement,” Dr. Fauci declared, adding, “Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I want to say that officially.”