- The US is at risk of a “potential fourth surge” of virus cases, the CDC’s top official said Monday.
- She urged Americans to stick to CDC rules to avoid this and warned states against easing up.
- The CDC gave emergency authorization to a third COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday.
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The US risks a fourth surge of COVID-19 cases if people don’t follow public-health recommendations, according to the top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House press briefing on Monday.
Walensky, the CDC’s director since January 20, said recent declines in cases in the US had been leveling off “at a very high number” of about 67,200 cases a day.
The figure is a 2% uptick compared with the previous week.
Walensky said she was “really worried” about states rolling back public-health measures recommended by the CDC.
“Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close,” she said. “We have the ability to stop a potential fourth surge of cases in this country.”
Last week, President Joe Biden also warned against complacency in the face of variants spreading in the US.
All viruses mutate as they spread, but some mutations can help a virus infect people more efficiently. One concern among scientists is that uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus might allow more-dangerous variants to emerge before enough people are vaccinated.
“Ultimately, vaccination is what will bring us out of this pandemic,” Walensky said.
On Friday, the Food and Drug administration gave the Johnson & Johnson single-shot jab emergency-use authorization in the US, where it joins the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
“This means we now have three safe and highly effective vaccines that prevent serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19,” Walensky said.