While the U.S. continues to make progress with administering coronavirus vaccines across the nation, health officials are worried about a recent uptick in the number of new cases and hospitalizations.
Over the past week, the number of new daily cases has increased by ten percent and is now sitting at just under 60,000 cases. In addition, the number of hospitalizations has increased while an average of 1,000 people a day are dying, an increase of three percent.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky addressed the rise in cases during a press conference on Monday (March 29) and blamed the surge on the spread of new coronavirus variants, and an increased amount of travel as states have lifted restrictions and mask mandates in recent weeks.
She said the numbers are similar to what Europe experienced before a recent surge in cases and have left her with a sense of "impending doom."
"I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," Walensky said. "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. I know what it's like, as a physician, to stand in that patient room gowned, gloved, masked, shielded, and to be the last person to touch someone else's loved ones because their loved ones couldn't be there."
Walensky said she would tell governors to reinstate restrictions during a meeting later in the week. She also urged people to get vaccinated while continuing to wear masks and practice social distancing.
"I'm speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, and 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," she said. "I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We're just almost there, but not quite yet. And so I'm asking you to just hold on a little longer to get vaccinated when you can so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends."
As of March 29, over 145 million doses have been administered in the U.S., and more than 52 million people are considered fully vaccinated.
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