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02:14 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

If you’re not protected against Covid-19, the virus will likely infect you, one expert told CNN on Wednesday.

“This virus is highly infectious. If you decide to try to run the game clock out, don’t try to do it. This virus will find you, it will infect you eventually,” Michael Osterholm, director for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN’s Pamela Brown.

“If that’s not enough to motivate people to get vaccinated,” he added, “then the only other things I think we have are the mandates that say, ‘If you’re going to work here or go here … you have to get vaccinated.’”

Americans who are choosing not to get their Covid-19 shot aren’t just putting themselves in danger – they’re putting everyone around them in danger as well, Osterholm said.

“If you are a case and you become infectious, you do two things: one is you pose a risk to others including your own loved ones, but number two is you’re also using hospital resources right now which in many instances are very, very short,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said people choosing not to get the vaccine are also upping the chances of another coronavirus variant emerging, one that could be more aggressive and more pervasive than the Delta variant.

“If we don’t crush the outbreak to the point of getting the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated, then what will happen is the virus will continue to smolder through the fall into the winter, giving it ample chance to get a variant which, quite frankly, we’re very lucky that the vaccines we have now do very well against the variants – particularly against severe illness,” Fauci said in an interview with McClatchy. “There could be a variant that’s lingering out there that can push aside Delta.”

And if a variant arises that’s also highly contagious but also more likely to cause severe illness, “then we really could be in trouble,” Fauci added.

“People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. it’s about everybody else, also,” he said.

Roughly 58% of the US population has received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 49.8% of the population is fully vaccinated, the data shows.

More than 90 million eligible people in the US are still unvaccinated. And though the seven-day average of people initiating vaccination each day is the highest it has been since July 4 at 446,300, many experts say the US is still not where it needs to be to get the pandemic – and the rapidly spreading Delta variant – under control.

On Tuesday, for the first time since February, more than 50,000 hospital beds across the country were occupied by Covid-19 patients, according to new data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. That number is more than triple what it was a month ago.

“This surge that we’re going through right now has every potential to be – and already looks to be – the worst surge we’ve faced so far,” former US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said during a live online interview with The Washington Post.

Delta variant now accounts for more than 93% of Covid-19 cases in the US