Unvaccinated people should avoid traveling during the Labor Day holiday, the director of the C.D.C said.
As Covid hospitalizations reached a daily average of 100,000 for the first time since last winter’s surge, Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, identified vaccination and masking as key factors in preventing the spread of the virus.
“First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” she said at a White House news briefing on Tuesday. Labor Day, which celebrates American workers with a three-day weekend and is the unofficial end of summer, is often observed with barbecues and gatherings for family and friends.
This year, the strong spread of the Delta variant makes decisions about those traditions more complicated. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all rising in the United States.
About 52 percent of the U.S. population, or 174 million people, is fully vaccinated, according to C.D.C. data. Among those who are over 12 years old and are eligible for the vaccine, 72.2 percent of the population, or 205 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Dr. Walensky said that gatherings — among vaccinated relatives and friends — should take place outdoors. And everyone, including those who are vaccinated, should wear masks in public indoor settings.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed, indoor settings,” she said.
While health officials have said that those who are fully vaccinated and wearing masks can travel, Dr. Walensky said that everyone should assess their own risk tolerance, in light of the surges in the virus.
Even though many Americans changed their Thanksgiving plans last year, a spike in Covid transmissions, hospitalizations and deaths in some areas of California and Texas were attributed partly to those gatherings that did happen.