BIDEN administration officials have warned of “impending doom,” as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to spike across the country.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an impassioned appeal for Americans to continue to take coronavirus precautions on Monday, admitting she was “scared” of what was to come.
Speaking during a virtual White House briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky grew emotional, reflecting on the state of the pandemic in the U.S.
Walensky said: “When I first started at CDC about two months ago, I made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth, even if it was not the news you wanted to hear. Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust that you will listen.”
She went on: “I am going to pause here, I'm going to lose the script and I am going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom…we have so much reason for hope, but right now I'm scared.”
According to CDC data, in the past week the average number of new daily infections has risen by 10 percent to nearly 60,00 a day.
The data shows hospitalizations have risen to more than 4,800 new admissions a day.
New daily deaths have also increased by about three percent, to just shy of 1,000 a day, compared to the prior seven-day rolling average.
Walenksy warned that without immediate action the U.S. could follow European countries into another spike in cases and suffer needless deaths.
She pleaded with her audience: “I’m speaking to you 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. I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, but we are not quite there.”
“So I'm asking you to just hold on a little longer, to please get vaccinated when you can, so that all those people we all love will still be here when the pandemic is over.”
She added: “I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen.”
Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert also appealed to the country to maintain social distancing measures and mask wearing.
Fauci said: ”We are doing things prematurely” – referring to moves to ease up on restrictions.
Walensky joined his calls, adding: “We are not powerless, we can change this trajectory of the pandemic."
She aligned the loosening of restrictions with the increase of cases, saying: “People want to be done with this. I, too, want to be done with this.”
"We’ve seen surges after every single holiday.”
“Please limit travel to essential travel for the time being.”
The CDC director was visibly emotional as she spoke of her experience treating COVID-19 patients, saying: “I know what it's like s a physician to stand in that patient room, gowned, gloved, masked and shielded and to be the last person to touch someone else's love one because there loved one couldn't be there.”
“I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standard of care and you wonder if there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who is going to make that choice.”
“And I know what it's like to pull up to the hospital every day and see the extra morgue. I didn't know at the time when it would stop. We didn't have the science to tell us. We were just scared.”
After hovering for weeks at about 50,000, the seven-day rolling average of new Covid cases in the U.S. is now more than 63,000, with 43,694 new infections recorded Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
More than half of states saw new cases rise by more than 10 percent last week, compared to the preceding week, and Michigan officials say the surge dreaded nationwide is already upon the state.
Another 506 Americans died of COVID-19 on Sunday.
Walensky's comments came hours before President Biden addressed the nation with an update on the vaccination effort.
The president announced that by April 19 at least 90% of the adult U.S. population would be eligible for vaccination and would have access to a vaccination site within 5 miles of home.
Quick vaccination would still depend on supply as well as overcoming some people's hesitancy about the shots.
Biden has directed that all states make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1, but many have moved to lift eligibility requirements sooner in anticipation of supply increases.
It comes as the Biden administration is reportedly developing a "vaccine passport" that will allow Americans to return to pre-pandemic activities.
But critics have slammed the initiative, in partnership with private firms, as "un-American" over privacy concerns.
Biden views the so-called vaccine passport as key to meeting the administration’s goal of emerging from the lockdown and returning to normal this summer.
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