Director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky once again issued a warning to the country on Thursday regarding the coronavirus.
“Whether you are vaccinated or not, please know, we, together, are not out of the woods yet,” Walensky said. “We are yet at another pivotal moment in this pandemic, with cases rising again and some hospitals reaching their capacity in some areas.”
“The delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains,” Walensky told the press. “It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20 year career.”
Walensky addressed reports that the White House might start pushing for vaccinated people to wear masks. “Fully vaccinated people are protected from severe illness, and we’ve always said that communities and individuals need to make the decisions that are right for them based on what’s going on in their local areas,” she said, according to ABC News.
She later added, “In areas that have a high amount of disease and low amounts of vaccination … if you’re unvaccinated, you should absolutely be wearing a mask. If you’re vaccinated, you have exceptional levels of protection from that vaccine, and you may choose to add an extra layer of protection by putting on your mask and that’s a very individual choice.”
Later on Thursday, President Joe Biden was questioned by ABC News about whether the White House may shift its position on mask-wearing.
“We follow the science. What’s happening now is all the major scientific operations … are looking at all the possibilities of what’s happening now,” he said. “We have a pandemic among the non-vaccinated — those who are not vaccinated.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was also unclear when she was asked about talks that might be going on concerning mask-wearing.
“It would be more concerning — or should be more concerning to all of you and the American people if we were not having those conversations. So, there are certainly conversations about steps we can and should take,” she told the press.
In March, Walensky notably put out a dire warning to the American people, telling them that she was concerned about certain trends across the country. At a press briefing with the White House COVID-19 Response Team and other public health authorities, Walensky appeared to become emotional when speaking about the coronavirus.
“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,” Walensky said at the time. “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.”
“We are not powerless. We can change this trajectory of the pandemic,” she said at the time. “But it will take all of us recommitting to following the public health prevention strategies consistently while we work to get the American public vaccinated.”
“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 just please hold on a little while longer,” she added. “I so badly want to be done, I know you all so badly want to be done, we’re just almost there, but not quite yet. And so, I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends.”
According to CDC data, daily coronavirus cases have significantly decreased since the beginning of the year. As of Thursday, 59.7% of adults in the United States were fully vaccinated and 79.6% of Americans who are 65 years of age or older were fully vaccinated.
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