“We have so much to hope for, so much promise and potential from where we are and so much to hope for, but at the moment I’m afraid,” said Walensky, who noted that she had started to feel a “recurring” feeling of “Impending doom.” ”
The call came amid news that positive Covid-19 cases were up 10.6% from the previous seven-day period. Hospitalizations and deaths, which is a delayed measure, have also increased in the past seven days, by 4.2% and 2.6% respectively.
Daily infections are down in the United States from January’s peaks, but have stagnated at around 40,000 to 50,000 cases per day, Walensky said. Now they are 60,000 to 70,000.
Once cases make that initial leap, Walensky said, “things really do tend to rocket and rocket”.
Urgent advocacy regarding another potential increase in Covid-19 cases comes as a number of states have started to ease Covid-19 restrictions as larger percentages of their populations are vaccinated against Covid-19. More than 28% of the U.S. population has now received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to CDC data. But many people from all demographic groups are still waiting to be vaccinated, and some states are reporting serious increases in cases and even hospitalizations among young people.
“I want to be done so badly, I know you all want to be done so badly,” Walensky added. “We’re almost there, but not quite yet. And so I ask you to hold on a little longer, to get yourself vaccinated when you can so that all the people we all love are still there when this pandemic ends.
Walenksy reiterated the warnings of many experts that the United States could follow by a few weeks what Europe has gone through. Countries have seen some of their biggest pandemic peaks, leading to another round of restrictions and lockdowns.
The causes of the current increases are mainly twofold, experts say.
One, a more transmissible and apparently deadlier variant of the virus, called B.1.1.7, has gained momentum in the country and is now to the point where it can increase transmission. The variant first appeared in the UK and has spikes in other European countries. Another variant, B.1.526, appears to cause some spread in the northeastern United States, as well as B.1.1.7.
The other is that governors and mayors have rejected restrictions that have been shown to reduce transmission of the coronavirus, including mask warrants and capacity limits on businesses and activities. Travel is also on the rise.
These factors help the virus outsmart the benefits of the United States that could help curb the spread, including much of those who are protected from a previous infection or, increasingly, from vaccines.
President Biden also expressed a sense of urgency on Monday as he detailed new measures to speed up the pace of vaccinations, including the expansion of pharmacies administering vaccines from 17,000 to nearly 40,000, opening a dozen. new mass vaccination sites and the contribution of $ 100 million to help the elderly. and people with disabilities with transport to appointments for vaccines.
He touted that by April 19, 90% of American adults will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within five miles of where they live, but also warned that the effort was still long.
“In this race against a rapidly spreading virus, as fast as we go we have to go faster,” Biden said in televised remarks.
Rachel Cohrs contributed reporting.