The recent declines in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are showing signs of stalling, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Wednesday, adding that the country is at a “critical nexus” in the pandemic.
“We knew this would happen as variants emerged and reached more people in more communities, but we can still reduce their impact,” Walensky said.
The U.S. is currently seeing a seven-day average of 66,010 new coronavirus cases, marking an increase of 3.5% from the week prior, while deaths also increased 2.2% from the previous week’s average.
“Today we are at a critical nexus in the pandemic, so much can turn in the next few weeks,” Walensky said. “On the one hand, cases in the country are leveling off at rates just on the cusp of the potential to resurge, and the B.1.1.7 hyper-transmissible variant moves ready to hijack our success to date. And on the other hand, stamina has worn thin, fatigue is winning and the exact measures we’ve taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored.”
Walensky’s warning comes as multiple states move to rescind coronavirus restrictions such as mask mandates and limits on indoor gatherings. Texas, for instance, on Tuesday rid of its mask mandate marking the largest state to do so.
The Biden administration, which announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would have enough vaccine to inoculate every adult by May, has repeated pleas to the public to continue using masks regardless of state mandates. Walensky again asked people to “reach deeply” and continue to adhere to public health measures in order to “protect the nation’s health and our loved ones.”
“How this plays out is up to us, the next three months are pivotal,” she said.
As far as variants are concerned, Dr. Anthony Fauci said work is being done at the National Institutes of Health in conjunction with vaccine manufacturers to study several approaches in boosting vaccine efficacy. He previously outlined several approaches including creating new boosters to target the variant, such as the one Moderna developed against the South Africa strain, or simply adding a boost to the existing vaccine to higher the titer of antibody against the wild type of virus.