CDC director gives emotional warning amid 10% jump in COVID-19 cases

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said she feels a sense of "impending doom" about another potential COVID-19 surge and issued an impassioned plea for Americans to maintain virus precautions during a March 29 briefing at the White House.

"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," Dr. Walensky said, acknowledging that she was going off script and drawing on her experiences as a physician at Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital last year. "I know what it's like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside."

Dr. Walensky pointed to the most recent federal data on COVID-19, which show that:

  • The U.S. is recording slightly less than 60,000 cases per day, a 10 percent increase from the previous seven-day period.

  • Hospitalizations have also increased to 4,800 admissions per day, up from 4,600 in the previous seven-day period.

  • Deaths have increased by nearly 3 percent to a seven-day average of about 1,000 deaths per day.

The pandemic's current trajectory in the U.S. is similar to what Germany and Italy saw just a few weeks ago, according to Dr. Walensky. Now, these countries are seeing a consistent and worrying spike in cases, she added.

"We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic," Dr. Walensky said. "I know you all so badly want to be done. … 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."

Dr. Wallensky also called on elected officials, faith-based leaders and other community leaders to sound the alarm and carry on her message.

"We do not have the luxury of inaction," she said. "For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge."

Hours after the briefing, President Joe Biden urged governors and mayors to reinstate mask mandates, reports The New York Times.


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