To many Americans, it may seem that we are already in the final stretch of the pandemic. With more than 25 million people in the US fully vaccinated and COVID cases on a largely downward trajectory, there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, many health experts have warned against premature celebration. Recently, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, MD, warned that we could soon be experiencing a fourth wave of COVID. Read on to find out what you think could lead to another outbreak, and to learn more about the current state of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci just said that she is concerned about COVID in these 2 states.
During a press conference of the White House Task Force on COVID-19 on March 1, Walensky made clear the risk of another COVID surge. “I remain deeply concerned about a possible change in the trajectory of the pandemic,” she said. However, he noted that there are ways to avoid another wave. “We have the ability to stop a possible fourth increase in cases in this country.”
Walensky pointed to the new variants and the absence of necessary public health precautions as the two things that could fuel a fourth wave of the pandemic. And as an essential guide on the vaccine, Dr. Fauci simply said don’t take this drug with the COVID vaccine.
“The most recent seven-day average of cases, about 67,200, represents an increase of just over 2 percent compared to the previous seven days,” Walensky said. ABC News reported that prior to this jump in cases, the US had seen a six-week decline in cases. The CDC director attributes this increase, in part, to new strains of COVID circulating in the country. “Please hear me clearly: At this level of expanding variant cases, we may completely lose our hard-won ground. These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress,” he continued.
On March 3, Reuters reported that scientists feel less optimistic about the trajectory of the pandemic in recent weeks due to the variations. According to Reuters, health experts predict that the virus will continue to “cause a significant burden of disease and death in the coming years”, as long as variants are circulating.
White House COVID Advisor Anthony Fauci, MD, told Reuters that even after his vaccination, he still plans to wear a mask if there are variants circulating. “All you need is a little movement of a variant [sparking] another increase, and there goes his prediction “about when life returns to normal,” he said. And to learn more about the current spread of the coronavirus, COVID numbers are increasing again in these 10 states.
“I am really concerned by reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures that we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” Walensky said. “I understand the temptation to do this: 70,000 cases a day seems good compared to where we were just a few months ago, but we cannot resign ourselves to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 deaths a day.”
Walensky’s comments come as several states announced relaxed coronavirus restrictions, including repealing mask mandates and reopening businesses to 100 percent capacity. According to ABC News, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas have dropped mitigation measures.
“Now is not the time to relax critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are this close,” added Walensky. “Please stand firm in your belief. Please continue to wear your well-fitting mask and take the other public health prevention measures that we know work.” And for the most up-to-date information, subscribe to our daily newsletter.
Walensky said vaccination is what will eventually end the pandemic, but stressed that to do that, we need to vaccinate many more people, which will not happen overnight.
Fauci expressed a similar sentiment on January 21 during his first press conference at the White House under the new administration. He explained that vaccination is the key to preventing the creation of new strains. “Viruses don’t mutate unless they reproduce,” he said. We can suppress the replication of the virus with “a very good campaign of vaccines, then you could really avoid this deleterious effect that you could get from mutations.” And for more information on vaccination, doctors advise you to “be prepared” for this after your second dose.