The CDC Just Warned of This "Very Concerning Shift" With COVID
Officials are warning we're not on the other side of the pandemic yet.
Coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations have been sharply falling since early January, giving many of us hope that overcoming COVID is not the impossible task it once felt like. However, as much as we'd like to believe the end of the pandemic is just around the corner, as we've seen time and time again throughout the last year, things can change rather quickly. Unfortunately, the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hints that we could once again see cases climb sooner rather than later. On Friday, Feb. 26, the agency's director, Rochelle Walensky, MD, reported on a "very concerning shift" happening with COVID numbers at the moment. Read on to find out what's going on with the virus, and for more coronavirus news from leading experts, find out why Dr. Fauci Just Said Don't Take This Medication With the COVID Vaccine.
The CDC director said declines in COVID cases and hospitalizations are stalling.
It appears that case numbers and hospitalizations may not continue rapidly declining as they have been throughout February. During the White House's Feb. 26 COVID Response Team & Task Force press briefing, Walensky warned that these positive results appear to be "leveling off" now.
"Over the last few weeks, cases and hospital admissions in the United States have been coming down since early January and deaths had been declining in the past week. But the latest data suggest that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off at still a very high number. We at CDC consider this a very concerning shift in the trajectory," she explained. And for more on the future of the pandemic, This Is When We Can Expect the Next COVID Surge, Experts Say.
National case numbers have risen slightly in the past few days.
For the most part, new COVID cases have been steadily declining since they peaked on Jan. 8, when more than 300,000 cases were reported. But according to data from The New York Times, case numbers over the past few days have risen. On Feb. 21, the country reached a new low of only 55,195 cases and by Feb. 25, numbers were back up to 77,804 new cases, a 41 percent increase. And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Walensky said it's not a good idea to get rid of COVID restrictions yet.
In the past two months, Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota have all lifted their previous statewide mask mandates, according to The Wall Street Journal. But Walensky made it clear that COVID restrictions should not yet be lifted just because numbers were seemingly improving and vaccines are being rolled out. "It's important to remember where we are in the pandemic. Things are tenuous. Now is not the time to relax restrictions," she said.
"I want to be clear—cases, hospital admissions, and deaths all remain very high. And the recent shift in the pandemic must be taken extremely seriously," Walensky warned. "We may be done with the virus, but clearly, the virus is not done with us. We cannot get comfortable or give in to a false sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Not now, not when mass vaccination is so very close." And for more vaccine tips from the top health agency, check out The CDC Says Don't Do This Within 2 Weeks of Your COVID Vaccine.
Dr. Fauci said that we could easily enter another surge similar to the fall's.
White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, agreed with Walensky, saying that the point she made is critical. "If we plateau at 70,000, we are at that very precarious position that we were right before the fall surge, where anything that could perturb that could give us another surge," Fauci explained. According to the data from The New York Times, numbers in October of last year were around 70,000 cases a day right before fall and winter holidays created a massive surge in the country that pushed us past the 100,000-, 200,000-, and eventually 300,000-mark.
"Where the pandemic goes from here is dependent on our collective behavior and resolve to do our part to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Together, we have the capacity to avoid another surge in our nation," Walensky said. "I know people are tired, they want to get back to life to normal. But we're not there yet. Give us the time we need to get more vaccines into our communities and to get more people vaccinated. This is our path out." And for more on how to follow precautions the best way possible, beware that If You're Layering These Masks, the CDC Says to Stop Immediately.