RICHMOND, Va. -- As hundreds of Virginia drivers head back home after traveling this Labor Day weekend, health experts warn the holiday celebrations could prompt a COVID-19 surge.
Just last week, the U.S. recorded more than one million cases, the most since January 2021.
"We're seeing a surge of the Delta variant pretty much everywhere in the United States," explained Marshall Vogt, senior epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health.
More than 100,000 Americans are also in hospitals, and the deaths are climbing, Dr. Peter Hotez, Baylor College of Medicine professor of pediatrics and the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development co-director, explained on CBS This Morning.
Hotez said the risk is particularly higher for unvaccinated individuals and their children. Child hospitalizations are now five times higher than this time a year ago.
"Anyone who is eligible to be vaccinated, get vaccinated because what we’re learning now is the little kids under 12 who are not eligible to be vaccinated are often getting infected from unvaccinated adults, either unvaccinated adults in the home, and we even have a report now from the Centers of Disease Control of an unvaccinated teacher," Hotez noted. "So, it's really key anyone eligible to be vaccinated, get that vaccine. "
If you’re heading home from your trip Monday, Vogt said you should avoid large crowds as much as possible and be sure to wear a mask.
"For vaccinated people, it's still okay to travel, you know, taking precautions, thinking about what your acceptable risks are, but it comes down to that key, which is being vaccinated," Vogt explained.
He added unvaccinated travelers should get tested when they get home, and if you’re fully vaccinated, he said symptom checking is still important.
"If you do get sick, if you have those symptoms, and you think maybe it's just too cold, maybe it's allergies, go ahead and get tested, just to make sure it's not COVID instead," said Vogt.
COVID-19 deaths have climbed up to 1,500 a day, and almost all of them are among the unvaccinated. While health officials are seeing breakthrough infection due to the Delta variant, they say breakthrough hospitalizations or deaths are very rare.