On Monday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the United States faces “impending doom” as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise and many states ease restrictions.
During a news briefing, she said, “When I first started at CDC about 2 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.”
“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she added.
Dr. Walensky urged Americans to continue following precautionary measures to prevent another surge.
She said, “I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around. I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, 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.”
The CDC director said there has been a surge in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths over the last week.
Over the last week, there has been a steady rise in cases, along with hospitalizations and deaths, Walensky says.
She said she would be speaking with governors today about “opening up at levels we wouldn’t necessarily recommend.”
As the number of cases continues to rise across the states, public health officials have expressed their concerns that another COVID-19 surge is on the horizon.
As vaccines are distributed across the nation, experts report most new infections in younger age groups.
Dr. Ashish Jha of the Brown University School of Public Health told CNN, “People over 65, a large proportion of them, have been vaccinated, are protected. That’s one of the reasons we have not seen a huge spike in hospitalizations.”
“A lot of the spread is happening among younger people,” he added. “That’s the group that is moving around, kind of relaxing, getting infected.”
Most states are easing their COVID-19 restrictions. Worryingly, spring break crowds have overwhelmed some areas, especially southern Florida.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health said, “We don’t want to go down the same path we’ve seen before and experience a resurgence in the pandemic. We cannot move forward if our metrics are going backward.”
Epidemiologist Dr. Bill Hanage of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told The New York Times, “Wherever we have exponential growth, we have the expectation of a surge in cases, and a surge in cases will lead to hospitalizations and deaths.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said we are facing the risk of a new surge and lifting safety measures is “premature.” “When you’re coming down from a big peak and you reach a point and start to plateau, once you stay at that plateau, you’re really in danger of a surge coming up,” he added. “And unfortunately, that’s what we’re starting to see.”