More than half of people in the United States 65 and older are at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response team said Friday.
That’s creating more pressure for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release their guidance on what people can safely do after being fully vaccinated.
At a press conference Friday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledged the urgency and promised that the guide will arrive soon.
“These are complex issues and science is evolving rapidly,” he said. “CDC is working to ensure that the communications we post about this guide are clear. We make sure and we take the time to get it right.”
While the rate of vaccinations is accelerating in the US, more than 2 million doses were administered on Thursday, the number of new Covid-19 cases has started to come to a halt after weeks of steady decline., Walensky warned.
“The most recent data shows that cases continue to fluctuate around 60,000 to 70,000 cases per day,” he said. The decline in the number of deaths reported each day has also stabilized at around 1,900.
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Those numbers are “still too high,” Walensky said, “and have now been stuck for more than a week at the levels we saw during the late-summer surge.”
The latest information is a concern for public health officials, especially as some states, including Texas and Mississippi, have announced that they will begin loosening the rules on the use of face coverings.
The slowdown in the decline in cases suggests the country is “at risk for another spike” from Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the briefing.
Meanwhile, the release of the CDC guidelines on how fully vaccinated people can interact with other fully vaccinated people, which were expected to be released this week, has been delayed.
The CDC said it is working to simplify the guide and make it clear to the public. It has been speculated that the guide could suggest that fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without masks.
“I know the idea of wearing a relaxing mask and getting back to everyday activities is appealing. But we still haven’t gotten it,” Walensky said.
“I think the CDC is taking its time to make sure they are cautious, that they are not overdoing the science,” said Dr. Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the CDC.
Meanwhile, Americans are desperate for permission to reconnect with loved ones.
“I hope there is some guidance that changes so that grandparents who are fully vaccinated can hug their grandchildren,” Besser added.
Also on Friday, a new report from the CDC found that eating indoors in restaurants was associated with an increase in both Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths.
The study looked at the impact of eating and drinking on the premises.
“Increases in daily Covid-19 case and death rates grew most rapidly within 40 to 80 days after restaurants were allowed to resume meals at the facility,” Walensky said.
He added that the findings serve “as a warning about the premature lifting” of the mask mandates. In addition to Texas and Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota are also in the process of ending the rules requiring face covering.
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According to the CDC, more than 54 million people in the US have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. That number is expected to increase significantly in the coming months, as Biden said Thursday that the country should have enough vaccine doses for all eligible adults by the end of May.
Also on Friday, the administration announced that two stadiums will act as federal Covid-19 vaccination sites. Those are the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.
Both sites are expected to administer at least 6,000 vaccines each per day.
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