The US government’s top coronavirus experts warned Friday that there are grave concerns about the resumption of infections and while there is reason for optimism amid the accelerated vaccinations, “there is no reason to relax” in the pandemic.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a White House briefing that the most recent weekly average shows a 7% increase in infections in the U.S. from the previous week, with about 57,000 cases per day.
The number of new hospital admissions has also increased slightly.
“I continue to be very concerned about this process. Please take this moment very seriously, ”Walensky said.
The daily death toll in the US continues to hover at about 1,000 people, with confirmed infections rising in about 20 states and deaths in 17 states.
At his first official press conference as president on Thursday, Joe Biden announced a doubling of his vaccination goal from 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his administration to 200 million doses administered.
On Friday morning, Walensky warned that, despite encouraging data on vaccinations, the US could lose hard-earned ground in the fight against the coronavirus if infections and hospitalizations do not decline.
Meanwhile, 46 states and the District of Columbia have announced plans to make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1, in line with the recommendations of the Biden administration, said Jeff Zients, the Covid White House response coordinator.
But even if 2.5 million people are vaccinated a day, Zients stressed that Americans must remain diligent to protect themselves.
“Clearly there is reason for optimism, but there is no reason to relax,” he said. “Now is not the time to lower our guard. We need to follow public health guidelines, wear a mask, socialize and get a vaccine when it’s your turn. “
Officials say there are now nearly 50,000 sites where people can be vaccinated, a total that will increase, including federally-led mass vaccination sites.
Walensky said she is still concerned that the pandemic has disproportionately affected people from marginalized communities.
The CDC is tackling these inequalities, including more money in vaccine distribution and investment in “access, acceptance and uptake among racial and ethnic minority communities,” Walenskay said.
Meanwhile, top infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci is launching a new trial testing how well vaccines prevent infection and transmission.
“The overriding question is when this [vaccinated] people get infected, how often is that? If they are asymptomatic, how much virus do they have in their nose? And do they broadcast it? He said adding results would inform the government of recommended action for those who have been vaccinated.