CDC director ‘actually nervous’ about states rolling again Covid measures as instances seem to plateau

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that she is “really concerned” that some states are pulling back public health measures to contain the pandemic, as the US cases appear to be on a “very high level.” high level “flatten.

The decline in Covid-19 cases since the beginning of January now appears to be stalling at around 70,000 new cases per day, said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a press conference at the White House. “With these statistics, I’m really concerned that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19.”

“Seventy thousand cases a day seem good compared to what we were a few months ago,” she continued. “Please listen to me clearly: at this level of cases with expanding variation, we are completely losing the hard-earned ground we have gained.”

The U.S. has at least 67,300 new Covid-19 cases every day based on a 7-day average calculated by CNBC using data from Johns Hopkins University. The US hit a high of nearly 250,000 cases per day in early January after the winter break.

Senior U.S. health officials including Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisory of the White House, have warned over the past few weeks that the rise in more contagious variants could reverse the current downward trend in infections in the US and delay the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.

As of Sunday, the CDC had identified 2,400 cases of variant B.1.1.7, which were first identified in the UK. The agency identified 53 cases of the B.1.351 strain from South Africa and 10 cases of P.1, a variant for the first time in Brazil.

Fauci said Monday that U.S. health officials are also closely monitoring another variant in New York that contains mutations that help evade the body’s natural immune response.

Officials say viruses cannot mutate unless they infect hosts and cannot replicate. They are also urging Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible before potentially new and even more dangerous variants continue to take hold.

Walensky said Monday that vaccinations will help the US get out of the pandemic, noting that the Food and Drug Administration has approved Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use. This makes it the third shot approved for distribution in the United States and the only vaccine that requires only one dose. Walensky canceled the vaccine on Sunday.

The J&J vaccine is a “much needed addition to our toolbox,” she said. By adding the permit, more people can be vaccinated.

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