By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The tri-state region is sounding the alarm as COVID cases increase again in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The country is also seeing a spike in cases due to the Delta variant, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to extend its travel restrictions.

The non-essential travel limitations extend between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday the state has more than 300 confirmed COVID hospitalizations. That hasn’t happened since June 25.

“We’ve come too far to go backward,” he wrote.

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The United States averaged 35,000 new cases in the past week, triple the count from a month ago. According to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the number of daily deaths is also rising.

“Over the last week, we have averaged 239 deaths per day, an increase of nearly 48% over the prior week,” she says.

Health officials say the Delta variant is to blame as it hits unvaccinated people particularly hard. The CDC says it’s the cause of around 83% of new COVID infections.

“The Delta variant is sneaky; it’s a beast; and it has figured out why you are no longer that person who is going to be fine,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, the chief medical officer of Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This variant is hitting younger Americans harder too; health officials are seeing people in their 20s develop serious complications. They continue to urge vaccinations.

“If you don’t choose the vaccine, you’re choosing death,” Dr. O’Neal says.

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According to the CDC, less than half the country is vaccinated.

Stephanie Stahl