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CDC director feels sense of 'impending doom' about another COVID-19 surge

AlxeyPnferov/iStockBy CHEYENNE HASLETT and STEPHANIE EBBS, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, in an emotional plea Monday, said she feels a sense of “impeding doom” about another surge in COVID-19 cases as infections increased 10%.

“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,” she said during a White House briefing.

Walensky has repeatedly warned that the country would face another, avoidable surge in COVID-19 cases if Americans didn’t keep wearing masks, avoid travel, and continue social distancing until more of the population is vaccinated.

She said CDC is now seeing the number of new COVID-19 cases and people hospitalized with the disease increase, which she attributed to increased travel in recent weeks, lifting restrictions, and more relaxed behavior.

The seven-day average of cases is slightly below 60,000 cases a day, a 10% increase over the previous period. Hospitalizations and deaths also have increased.

Walensky reflected on her experience treating COVID-19 patients over the last year, saying she has been the last person to sit with someone’s loved one when they were sick and knows the stress on healthcare providers not sure if they’ll have the resources to treat every patient.

And she said with the vaccination effort underway the end of the pandemic is within reach, but she said until more Americans are vaccinated everyone has to continue wearing masks, refrain from nonessential travel, and take steps to prevent more people from becoming sick. She warned another COVID-19 surge along the lines of last summer or the winter would slow down efforts to vaccinate more people.

“We have come such a long way. Three historic scientific breakthrough vaccines, and we are rolling them out so very fast. So I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director or not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on for a little while longer,” she said.

“I so badly want to be done, I know you all so badly want to be done, we’re just almost there, but not quite yet. And so I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love was still be here when this pandemic ends.”

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