Jerome Adams, surgeon general for the Trump administration, appeared on Face the Nation Sunday, where he urged Americans to get vaccinated as the Delta variant appears to be pushing the United States towards an inevitable fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

When asked about vaccine hesitancy in the country, Adams warned that the decision to remain unvaccinated will come with consequences. “More mitigation is coming. Whether it’s masking, or whether it’s closures or whether it’s your kids having to return to virtual learning, that is coming,” he elaborated, per CNN. “And it’s coming because this pandemic is spiraling out of control yet again. And it’s spiraling out of control because we don’t have enough people vaccinated.” 

Johns Hopkins University has found that 48 states have seen the rate of new Covid-19 cases jump by, at least, 10 percent this past week, compared to the previous week, while just over one-third of states have reported increases of more than 50 percent. These numbers are primarily attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant, which CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky called “one of the most infectious respiratory viruses” she has ever see. The Delta variant now accounts for more than 83 percent of sequenced cases in the country.  

According to the New York Times, the D mnnnnnbelta variant is more than 200 percent more transmissible than the original virus, and could elude antibodies created by the body of someone who was previously infected or chose to get vaccinated. The latter group’s susceptibility to Covid-19 has nothing to do with the efficacy of the vaccine, and everything to do with the virus’ ability to mutate the longer it sticks around. The vaccine was expected to be highly effective against the original virus, but it has been pushed to the brink with the alpha and delta variants. 

Walensky said last week that over 97 percent of people hospitalized due to the virus are unvaccinated, while current surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy added that 99.5 percent of Covid-related deaths are from those who are unvaccinated.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post last week, Adams urged the CDC to reverse course on its mask policy, citing his own error in judgment last year. “But if you’re out in public, if you’re around people who you don’t know whether they’re vaccinated or not, and especially if you’re in a community where prevalence is going up, as Dr. Gottlieb said, it is probably going to be safest for you to mask it whether or not you’re vaccinated or not,” he explained.