Dr. Rochelle Walensky goes off script, issues an emotional plea about ‘impending doom’ following a rise in COVID-19 cases

During a White House briefing on Monday, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, issued an emotional plea to Americans about the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

“We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”

“We are not powerless. We can change this trajectory of the pandemic.”

“I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. 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.”

Rochelle P. Walensky

Dr. Walensky said that for the last few weeks “reported cases in the U.S. ranged from 40,000 to 50,000 a day, and things were ‘holding steady.’ Over the last week, there has been a steady rise to 60,000 to 70,000 cases per day.”

“What we have seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge and to surge big,” Walensky said. “For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge.”

The seven-day average of new cases topped 63,000 for the first time in nearly a month, according to data compiled by The Washington Post, while states such as Michigan, Vermont and North Dakota reported substantial spikes in new infections. The nation appeared poised for a fourth wave of illness even as vaccine eligibility is expanding in many states.

Michigan led the nation in new cases with a 57 percent rise over the past week. The state, which relaxed covid-related restrictions earlier this month, also reported the largest increase in coronavirus hospitalizations, which grew by more than 47 percent.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed Walensky in calling for continued caution, saying that restrictions aimed at stymying the spread of COVID-19 are being lifted too soon in several areas.

“We are doing things prematurely,” Fauci said. “Just please hold on a little while longer.”

As of Monday morning, the U.S. continues to lead the world in the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed nationwide with 30.2 million, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. The viral infection has claimed nearly 550,000 lives in the U.S. alone.

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