CDC chief warns US of impending doom as Covid circumstances resurface: “Proper now I am scared”
The US faces “impending doom” as daily Covid-19 cases rise again and threaten to send more people to hospital, despite vaccinations accelerating nationwide, the head of the US Centers for Control and Prevention said of diseases on Monday.
“When I started at CDC about two months ago, I made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth if it wasn’t the news we wanted to hear. Now is one of those times when I share the truth and I have to hope and trust that you will listen, “said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a press conference.
“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to think about the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said. “We can look forward to so much, so much promise and potential where we are and so much reason to hope, but right now I’m scared.”
According to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, the US is seeing a weekly average of 63,239 new Covid-19 cases per day, up 16% from the previous week. Daily cases now grow at least 5% in 30 states and DC
Coronavirus hospital stays are also increasing. The US reports a 7-day average of 4,816 Covid-19 hospital admissions on Friday, up 4.2% from the previous week, according to CDC data.
Walensky urged Americans to “hold out just a little longer” and get vaccinated against the virus as soon as it is their turn. When cases come up like they have in the last week or so, Walensky said, “they often sway shortly after and bubble big”.
“I’m not necessarily speaking today as your CDC director and not just as your CDC director, but as a woman, as a mother, as a daughter, asking you to please hold on for a while,” said Walensky.
Leading public health experts have warned since late February that infections could pick up again amid the surge in virus variants threatening the US, similar to Europe.
One of these variants, first identified in the UK, known as B.1.1.7, has now been discovered in all states except Oklahoma, according to the latest data from the CDC. The CDC is also closely monitoring another variant found in New York City known as B.1.526, which is also considered more transmissible compared to previous strains, Walensky said last week.
The Chief Medical Officer of the White House, Dr. However, Anthony Fauci said Sunday the disruptive virus mutations aren’t the only reason cases are on the rise.
More and more Americans, fed up with pandemic restrictions and reassured by the life-saving vaccines, are heading for the spring break. Some heads of state are pulling back restrictions, including masked mandates, to help slow the spread of the virus.
“We take variations seriously and are concerned, but it’s not just variations that do that,” Fauci told CBS ‘Face the Nation on Sunday.
The vaccine rollout is accelerating
Walensky’s grim warning followed an otherwise optimistic update on the country’s vaccine rollout.
The US is administering an average of 2.7 million shots per day weekly. This is “significant progress” toward President Joe Biden’s new goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office, said Andy Slavitt, White House senior advisor on Covid Response.
“This is good news. We are on the right track, but we cannot slow down. Millions remain unvaccinated and at risk,” said Slavitt.
Over 72% of Americans age 65 and over have now received at least one dose of vaccine, while nearly half of that age group are considered fully vaccinated. More than a third of all American adults have now received at least one shot, CDC data shows.
A new study by the agency on Monday found that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were shown to be highly effective at just one dose.
The study, which examined nearly 4,000 health care workers, first responders and frontline workers between December 14 and March 1, found that vaccines were 80% effective against coronavirus infections after just a single dose.
However, federal health officials claimed two doses were better than one, adding that the vaccines’ effectiveness rose to 90% two weeks after the second shot.