CDC director warns of 'impending doom' on potential new surge
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday warned of "impending doom" over rising coronavirus cases, telling the public that even though vaccines are being rolled out quickly, a fourth surge could happen if people don't start taking precautions.
"I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. 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," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing Monday.
"We do not have the luxury of inaction," Walensky added.
Walensky's warning comes a day after the United States surpassed 30 million cases of COVID-19, and cases are continuing to increase.
According to Walensky, the seven day average of new cases is around 60,000 cases per day, a 10 percent increase over the past week. The numbers are still a far cry from the peak in January, but the rise comes after a sustained period of stagnation.
"When we see that uptick in cases, what we have seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge, and surge big," Walensky said.
Walensky said hospitalizations have also increased over the past week, as the most recent seven day average is about 4,800 admissions per day, up from 4,600 admissions per day in the prior seven days.
She said that the country has come "such a long way" with three authorized vaccines and pleaded with the nation to keep following mitigation measures and "just please hold on a little while longer."
The U.S. trends are mirroring what's happening in Europe, where nations are once again locking down amid a rapid increase in cases that is straining health care systems.
Nearly one in five Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. States across the nation have been lifting restrictions, including capacity restraints and mask mandates. Travel is also increasing.
Walensky said she will speak to governors tomorrow to get them to "buckle down" and refrain from opening up too fast.
President Biden urged state and local officials to reconsider lifting their coronavirus restrictions and to reinstate mask mandates that have lapsed as the U.S. faces an increase in cases.
"I'm reiterating my call for every governor, mayor and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate," Biden said at an event intended to highlight the rapid increase in vaccine eligibility. "Please, this is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down.
Asked later if some states should pause reopening efforts, Biden said "yes."
Upon taking office, he issued a call for Americans to mask up for the first 100 days of his administration, arguing that doing so would help curb COVID-19 cases while the country ramped up vaccinations.
States have aggressively started lifting mask mandates and easing restrictions on businesses and events in recent weeks as vaccine availability steadily increases, prompting concern from some in the federal government.
Biden previously criticized states like Texas and Mississippi that lifted mask mandates earlier this month, likening it to "Neanderthal thinking."
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