CDC Chief warns of 'impending doom' as Covid cases on rise

Dr. Rochelle Walensky

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Three historic scientific breakthrough vaccines, and we are rolling them out so very fast.

Much of America's recent progress against Covid-19 has been erased as new infections jump nationwide. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope.

"I know people are exhausted", Walensky said during the briefing. "It will be a race between the vaccine and what's going on with the dynamics of the outbreak, and we can win this by just hanging in there a bit longer".

"Now's not the time to let down [our guard], now's not the time to celebrate", he added.

He said he was taking these steps: 90 percent of all adults will be eligible by April 19, and the vast majority of adults won't have to wait until May 1.

States have also been moving to expand their vaccination eligibility criteria - NY on Monday became the latest to announce that all residents over the age of 16 would be able to get a vaccine by mid-April. Cases in prior weeks have been stagnating at about 40,000-50,000 per day.

But her face grew serious as she spoke of the country surpassing 30 million COVID cases since the pandemic began; of a 10% increase in the 7-day average of COVID-19 cases over the past week, to slightly below 60,000 cases; and of an uptick in hospitalizations, from a 7-day average of around 4,600 per day to around 4,800 per day. And more than 50 million Americans - almost one in five adults - are fully vaccinated.

On Friday, Vermont officials reported more than 250 new Covid-19 cases - the highest one-day total for the state since the pandemic's start. Travel is also starting to pick back up again, as the weather improves and people venture out on spring holidays.

Put simply, it is imperative that basic mitigation efforts are continued, vaccines are continued to be distributed, and that Americans continue to "hang in there", as Dr. Fauci said.

"If we open up completely now, that is premature, given the level of infection" currently seen in the U.S., Fauci said.

On top of the human toll, a new surge in coronavirus cases risks dealing a significant setback to the United States economic recovery as it accelerates on the back of stimulus legislation and expectations of a vastly improved health situation.

Many economic forecasters have been sharply upgrading their predictions for USA gross domestic product growth in 2021 to more than 6 per cent, forecasting a boom in consumption and a strong expansion of activity as Americans feel more comfortable resuming their normal lives.

As she had done in previous briefings, Walensky cautioned that the U.S.'s pandemic trajectory "looks similar" to that of European countries a few weeks earlier, including Germany, Italy, and France - countries now seeing "a consistent and worrying spike in cases", she said.

Ed O'Keefe of CBS News asked Dr. Walensky to explain why she feels "impending doom", and she cites the rise of cases per day to about 70,000 to be a significant factor.

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