The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention delivered an urgent and emotional call for Americans not to let their guard down amid a rising wave of coronavirus infections, saying in a briefing on Monday, “Right now, I’m scared.”
“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 we wanted to hear. Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said. “I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.”
The sobering comments come as the U.S. seven-day average for daily new COVID-19 cases hit almost at 60,000, up 10 percent from the prior week. Hospitalizations increased to about 4,800 a day, from 4,600 a week earlier, and deaths started to rise. Walensky said increased travel and states loosening restrictions are factors in the uptick.
“We are not powerless,” she added, pointing to our biggest cause for optimism: vaccines. “We can change this trajectory of the pandemic, but it will take all of us recommitting to following the public-health prevention strategies consistently while we work to get the American public vaccinated.”
The CDC director urged Americans to “just hold on a little longer” and to get vaccinated against the virus once it’s their turn. When cases rise as, they have over the past week or so, they often “surge and surge big” shortly thereafter, complicating our vaccination efforts. She pointed to European countries like Germany, France, and Italy, which have seen a spike in cases over the past few weeks, and noted the U.S. trajectory “looks similar.” In order to avoid going down that path, Walensky asked elected officials, faith leaders, and other influencers for help. “I’m calling on every single one of you to sound the alarm, to carry these messages into your communities,” she said.