CDC Chief Says She Is Scared of 'Impending Doom'

It's time for hard facts.
Brad Bergan

The U.S. faces "impending doom" as the tally of daily COVID-19 cases begins to climb again, threatening to put more people in the hospital despite the accelerating rollout of nationwide vaccinations, according to a Monday statement from the Head of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky, in an initial CNBC report.

CDC director feels 'impending doom' about a potential second wave of COVID-19

"When I first started at CDC about two months ago I made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth even if it was not the news we wanted to hear," began Walensky during the press conference. "Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen."

"I"m going to pause here, I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," added Walensky. "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."

As of writing, the U.S. is facing an average of 63,239 additional COVID-19 cases daily — a surge of 16% since last week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University analyzed by CNBC. New daily cases are increasing by at least 5% in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Hospitalizations from coronavirus infections are also surging — with the U.S. showing a seven-day average of 4,116 admissions due to COVID-19 as of last Friday, which represents a 4.2% increase from the week prior, according to data from the CDC.

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Walensky further urged people in the U.S. to "just hold on a little longer" and ensure they receive the vaccine against the COVID-19 virus when they're next line. The reason for added caution, she reasons, is that when cases rise as quickly as they have in the last week, they typically "surge and surge big" right after.

"I'm speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director and not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to please hold on a little while longer," added Walensky.

Public fatigue of precautionary COVID-19 measures and vaccine rollouts are leading to unadvised travel

Public health experts have warned since late February that infections might rise again — especially at a time when so many new variants of the COVID-19 coronavirus are poised to rapidly spread across the country — as they already have elsewhere. The one initially identified in the U.K. called B.1.1.7 has already shown up in every state but Oklahoma, according to the CDC's most recent data. The agency is also very wary about a new variant found in New York City called B.1.526, which is suspected to show a higher propensity for transmission compared to earlier strains of the virus.

Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor at The White House, said the new and dangerous mutations aren't the only cause for mounting case counts of coronavirus infections. Wide sectors of the U.S. population are experiencing emotional, psychological, and physical fatigue from the last year of calamity and isolation. And, excessively reassured by the new vaccines, many people are traveling for spring break. Some state leaders are rescinding restrictions like mask mandates — initially put in place to slow or stop the spread of the pandemic in communities.

With the U.S. administering roughly 2.7 million shots of COVID-19 vaccines daily, the President says we've made "significant progress" toward a goal of 200 million in his first 100 days in office, according to a briefing from The White House. But since pandemics is not an exact science (or policy, for that matter), it remains up to everyone to double-down on precautionary measures against the virus — and hope that the general population can also continue to show vigilance in the face of the unprecedented scale of the COVID-19 crisis.

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