CDC Chief Feels 'Impending Doom' Over COVID Cases

Daily infections, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to increase
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2021 1:50 PM CDT

The head of the CDC gave an update on COVID Monday that took a personal turn. Rochelle Walensky appeared to fight back tears as she warned Americans in stark terms that the rising number of coronavirus cases threatens to upend progress from vaccines, reports Axios. "Just please hold on a little while longer," she said, urging people and localities not to fully resume normal activities too soon. Coverage:

  • Fears: "I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," Walensky said, per the AP: "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."

  • Numbers: Bloomberg lays out the stats behind Walensky's fear of a fourth wave: The seven-day average of new daily cases in the US is about 60,000, up 10% from a week ago; hospitalizations have ticked up to 4,800 a day from 4,600; and deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations, also are rising again, with the seven-day average up 2.6% to 968.
  • Bad sign: "What we've seen over the last week or so is a steady rise in cases, we’re now in the 60 to 70,000 range," Walensky said. "When we see that uptick in cases what we've seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge and surge big." She added that people are traveling more, adding to her worry.
  • Her plea: Walensky said what's different this time is that vaccinations give us the power to stem the surge, if people will be patient, abide by safety protocols, and get their shots. "I'm speaking today not necessarily 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," she said. "I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there, but not quite yet." She will be speaking with governors on Tuesday.
  • Vaccine good news: A federal study found that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are extremely effective at preventing infections in real-world conditions, as opposed to the lab, reports the Washington Post. The study of 4,000 health-care and other essential workers found that one shot of either vaccine reduced the risk of infection by 80% and two shots reduced it by 90%. No deaths were reported in the study group.
  • Dr. Birx: The former White House coordinator on COVID response faulted the Trump administration's pandemic efforts, but Dr. Deborah Birx herself continues to take flak for her role in that. "Whatever Birx was doing, she was also aiding and abetting (former President) Trump," writes Jonathan V. Last at the Triad. Read Birx's side of things via CNN.
(More coronavirus stories.)

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