Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a pandemic task force briefing Monday that she feels a sense of “impending doom” as she watches Covid-19 cases rise across the country in the wake of state leaders’ premature moves to relax or completely lift coronavirus-related restrictions.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared,” said Walensky, who warned that the current case trajectory threatens to derail encouraging progress in the ongoing vaccine rollout. While vaccinations are trending in the right direction, just 20% of the adult population of the U.S. is fully inoculated, according to CDC figures.
“I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director and not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer,” Walensky added, an emotional plea that came as states across the nation—from Arizona to Iowa to Montana—rush ahead with reopening plans despite dire warnings from public health officials.
Walensky’s remarks came as new data from Johns Hopkins University showed that U.S. is currently averaging more than 63,000 new coronavirus cases each day, up 16% from a week ago. Around 970 people are dying from the virus each day as the nation closes in on 550,000 total deaths, according to the data.
In an interview on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, attributed the rising infection numbers to “things like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods that you’ve seen.”
During Monday’s briefing, Fauci said that “we can win this by just hanging in there a bit longer,” echoing Walensky’s call for continued mask wearing and social distancing.
“Hang in there, as Dr. Walensky said,” Fauci added. “We really need to hold on to the public health measures as we get more and more people—from two to three-plus million people—vaccinated every day.”
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