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'Impending doom': Shaken CDC director 'scared' about another surge of COVID-19

Dr. Rochelle Walensky
Posted at 2:25 PM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 14:25:30-04

For weeks, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been warning Americans about a potential new surge in COVID-19 cases. But during a Monday morning briefing of the White House COVID-19 response team, she gave her most alarming warning to date.

“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.”

According to the CDC Director, cases have begun to tick up in the U.S. after about two straight months of steady decline. Just two weeks ago, the 7-day weekly average in daily cases sat at about 53,000 a day. As of yesterday, that figure was above 61,000.

While deaths are hovering at about 1,000 each day, they are no longer declining steadily as they had in recent weeks.

Last week, Walensky noted that seeing another surge in cases was completely “avoidable,” given that the vaccination rate in the U.S. is expanding every day. On Monday, she urged Americans to remain vigilant for just a few more months.

“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,” Walensky 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."

Last week, the White House COVID-19 response team said the current uptick in cases was likely due to Americans who are dropping public health guidelines like wearing masks and social distancing — particularly in places like Miami Beach, where videos have shown large crowds of spring breakers congregating in bars without masks.

While the CDC has urged states to keep mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions in place, some states like Texas and Mississippi have chosen to roll back measures. The CDC still advises all Americans to continue to wear masks when in public, despite guidance from state and local governments.

“I'm calling on our elected officials, our faith-based communities, our civic leaders, and our other influencers in communities across the nation, and I'm calling on every single one of you to sound the alarm to carry these messages into your community and your spheres of influence,” Walensky said Monday. “We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering