PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns the drop in U.S. COVID-19 cases and deaths seems to be stalling, so now is not the time for states to ease restrictions.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, speaking at Monday’s White House COVID-19 response team media briefing, said in the latest seven-day average, there were around 70,000 COVID-19 cases a day and 2,000 deaths — roughly a 2% increase over the previous seven-day average.
“With these new statistics, I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” Walensky said. “I understand the temptation to do this. Seventy-thousand cases a day seems good compared to where we were just a few months ago, but we cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 daily deaths.”
Both Pennsylvania and Philadelphia officials recently announced the easing of some restrictions as numbers trend in the right direction. Other states are in a similar position. However, Walensky called the coronavirus variants a “real threat to our people and our progress.”
“Please hear me clearly,” she emphasized. “At this level of cases with variant spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground that we have gained.”
She said it is critical for people to continue to wear masks, maintain a distance from others and get vaccinated when it is their turn.
The Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, which was just approved for emergency use, had a 66% overall efficacy in clinical trials. That’s lower than Pfizer and Moderna’s rates — which were in the mid-90% range — but health officials say people should feel confident getting whatever vaccine is offered to them.
“We now have three safe and highly effective vaccines that prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” Walensky added. “We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country. Please stay strong in your conviction.”