CDC director expresses optimism about COVID-19 transmission ahead of Memorial Day weekend
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky expressed optimism ahead of the Memorial Day weekend that coronavirus cases would not rise amid a decline in COVID-19 cases and encouraging vaccination data.
The CDC director said during a White House COVID-19 response team briefing that she remains “cautious but hopeful” that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to fall, as the U.S. heads into a holiday weekend.
She acknowledged that previous holiday weekends have brought surges in COVID-19 cases but said the U.S. is in better shape with more than 130 million people fully vaccinated.
“We have seen after holiday weekends in the past that cases have risen,” Walensky said. “But well, we’ve never been in a position where we’ve had almost half the adults of America vaccinated and protected from this virus.”
Walensky said the CDC’s guidance remains unchanged for the weekend, and told vaccinated people, who are considered “protected” to “enjoy your Memorial Day.”
“Thanks to vaccines, tens of millions of Americans are able to get back to something closer to normal: visiting friends and family,” she said.
Unvaccinated people, on the other hand, “remain at risk of infection” and are instructed to wear a mask.
The CDC director pointed to seven-day averages reaching 22,877 new cases per day, down 25 percent compared to last week’s seven-day average. It also represented the seventh consecutive day where the average remained below 30,000 cases per day.
The average for daily hospital admissions has fallen to 3,008, and the average COVID-19 daily fatalities has reached 501, she added, saying “We are on a good downward path, but we are not quite out of the woods yet.”
“Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all declining because of the millions of people who have stepped forward and done their part to protect their health and the health of their communities to move us out of this pandemic,” she said. “Here’s to the start of blue skies and better days ahead.”
Earlier on Tuesday, a White House official said that the U.S. is expected to achieve full vaccinations for 50 percent of American adults, according to data updated the same day.
Out of the population eligible for vaccines, which includes people 12 and older, 58.5 percent have received at least one dose, and 46.5 percent are fully vaccinated, according to Monday’s CDC data.
The agency lifted the mask recommendations for those fully vaccinated earlier this month in a decision that several health experts criticized because there is not a way to verify vaccinations.
Vaccinations have slowed down in recent weeks after the most eager vaccine recipients received their shots. Daily doses administered have fallen to about 1.8 million per day from about 3 million per day in April.
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