The US had reported over 29 million cases since the declaration of the novel coronavirus pandemic by the World Health Organization a year ago. According to Johns Hopkins University data, the US death toll from the virus stood at over 529,000, which amounted to more than the number of Americans killed in World War I and World War II combined. Also, the virus continued to kill thousands of Americans each week.
Point Not Reached To Relax Measures Against Covid: CDC Director
The US was now at a critical point as case numbers having plateaued at high levels might be on the decline again, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday at a briefing in the White House. She added that average Covid-19 deaths and hospital admissions too were down through the past week.
She added that even as the trends were starting to head in the right direction, the number of cases, deaths and hospitalizations continued to be high and served as grim reminders for the need to remain vigilant as the administration worked to ramp up vaccination efforts to cover more Americans.
At this stage, with one fully vaccinated American out of every 10, the number was far too low to suppress the virus spread. Also, some experts had warned of a fresh surge, weeks away, from a variant that was highly contagious as it spread across the US.
According to experts, what was now needed as the US worked to ratchet vaccination numbers were the precautions that officials had been touting for months: social distancing, face masks, washing hands and avoiding crowds.
Also, it was especially crucial as per experts that Americans heeded the guidance, even as more governors called for loosening Covid-19 restrictions as the first step for returning to normal. Meanwhile, experts had stressed that the point had not yet been reached.
Walensky said the use of prevention measures that had been proven needed to be continued with to check Covid-19 spread. She added the measures had proven effective seeing the country thru to the stage it had reached.
For fully vaccinated Americans, the new guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released earlier this week, came as the first step in the direction of normal pre-pandemic life, according to the agency’s director and other colleagues writing in a JAMA Viewpoint article which was published Wednesday.
With the supply of vaccines increasing and expansion and improvement in the distribution and administration systems, more and more people would be fully vaccinated, they wrote. They would also be keen on resuming their normal pre-pandemic lives, according to Walensky and CDC officials Drs. Sarah Mbaeyi and Athalia Christie.
They added that giving the ability to vaccinated people to visit their friends and family in safety formed an important step in improving well-being and helped in securing a significant benefit from vaccination.
According to the officials, the guidance would evolve with growing vaccination and the emergence of more data. The officials added that with many Americans unvaccinated, public health precautions were still very important.
With community transmission levels high and the threat of variants remaining a concern, CDC recommended prevention measures for all people, irrespective of the vaccination status.
The agency did not revise its recommendations for travel in the fresh update: the CDC continued to advise that people delayed travel and stayed at home.
What had been seen was that surges happened after people started traveling. It was seen after July 4, it was seen after Labor Day, it was seen after the Christmas holidays, Walensky said in the briefing. She added, currently, 90 % of the people were still unprotected and not yet vaccinated. So, the CDC was keen on updating this guide with more protection across the communities and the population.