CDC director warns states against lifting COVID-19 restrictions

Source: The Hill | March 1, 2021 | Peter Sullivan

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky on Monday warned states against lifting coronavirus restrictions, pointing to the threat of variants and the “stalling” of recent declines in new cases.

“Our recent declines appear to be stalling, stalling at over 70,000 cases a day,” Walensky said at a White House press briefing.

“With these new statistics, I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from COVID-19,” she added.

New cases had declined for weeks, from as much as 250,000 per day in January to around 70,000 per day currently. But the declines have leveled off and are now even showing signs of ticking back up. Even 70,000 cases per day is an extremely high level, above the peak of last summer.

At the same time, a range of states have recently been easing restrictions. Massachusetts, for example, is lifting all capacity limits on restaurants this week and reopening concert halls at 50 percent capacity. Iowa and Montana also recently lifted statewide mask mandates, and the Texas governor said he is considering such a move.

And the rise of more contagious variants adds to the risk of a new spike as states ease up. The more infectious variant first found in the United Kingdom has risen to be about 10 percent of cases in the U.S., according to the CDC, up from 1 percent to 4 percent a few weeks ago.

“At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard earned ground we have gained,” Walensky said on Monday. “These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”

The increasing vaccine supply offers the promise of inoculating a large share of the population within a few months, but vaccinations are not yet widespread enough to control the pandemic, making continued precautions critical, experts say.

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  • Discussion
  •  EVERYDAY #47703

    PA just announced easing of travel restrictions and also increasing capacity for indoor and outdoor dining, sports and other activities and events.

    At the same time there is a rumor that teachers in PA will be next to get the vaccine. Not sure how other essential workers are going to feel about that. But more importantly, if this is true, the teachers will be competing with.seniors, many of whom still have not been vaccinated. I keep hearing weekly that PA just received many thousands of doses, but no one will say where they are going because PA still has regions which have yet to get any of the vaccines.

    Before restrictions are lifted the states should be concentrating on ensuring that there is adequate supply of the vaccine all over the state. not just here and there. Throwing out all restrictions now will mean spikes in cases and maybe having to restrict again. It’s ridiculous

     ConservativeGranny #47706

    Same stupid mistakes. Just in time for spring break with most of them unvaccinated.

     ConservativeGranny #47707

    Everyday have you not been able to get a vaccine yet?

     EVERYDAY #47722

    Granny, I finally received my first dose today. My aunt, however, is still waiting. She wants to get the vaccine in her own neighborhood, but it’s still not available there yet.

    Did you get yours yet?

     ConservativeGranny #47743

    Glad you got yours. I received my second dose a week ago. The clinic my doctors work from contacted me via email to let me know vaccines were available. My husband will receive his first dose tomorrow. There are many over 65 here who still have not been able to get a vaccine. The one common thing between them all is that their doctors are located at clinics that are not one of the big ones. There are a few places you may be able to find one here if you are 55+. Some Walgreens pharmacies have limited amount but one may have to travel. A friend learned via word of mouth about vaccine appointments available at a Muslim community or medical center in Milwaukee and was able to get a vaccine there. Another friend just happened to be at his doctor’s appointment towards the end of the day when the clinic had leftover vaccines already open and offered him one.

    I think one of the problems with the elderly not being able to get vaccines has to do with computer literacy or lack thereof. Some, like my mom, never touch a computer or cellphone and have no idea how to network online to search for and make appointments. We had to download an app on our phone so they could communicate better about vaccine availability. When the call comes you have to move fast. Those without cellphones or computer access are sort of left out in the cold unless they can find someone to help them.

     EVERYDAY #47744

    My aunt does not have internet and just a basic cell phone, and nearly all potential providers of the vaccine seem to require some kind of internet connection to even get on a waiting list, let alone make an appointment. My aunt was able to get on a list at her local Rite Aid, but she is unhappy she still hasn’t been contacted. Well, it’s hard for Rite Aid to schedule appointments if it has no vaccine to give.

    I signed up with several providers in my area, but oddly, it was a hospital I hadn’t signed up with that contacted me. I had been a patient there several times in 2019; I suppose since I was in its system and met the age requirement, the hospital thought it should offer me a chance to schedule an appointment. It’s a bit out of the way and I don’t drive, but I decided to make an appointment, get an Uber and go.

    I wanted to try to get my aunt registered at other locations, even the hospital where I’m getting the vaccine, but she wouldn’t go for that idea. It actually upsets me that I finally snared an appointment while she is still waiting. She is 89 with a number of health issues worse than mine. But distribution of the vaccine in this state has been uneven and supplies have been unreliable.

    One of the hospitals about 30 miles away had set up clinics both at the hospital and at various senior high rises and community centers for this weekend based on a promise that the hospital would get an adequate supply of vaccine today. The hospital has now been informed its shipment won’t arrive in time, no word on when it wiil arrive, so the clinics are all canceled. This has been the patten for the last few months around here. Even if you are lucky to get an appointment, you still might not get the vaccine.

    I suspect most of the vaccine PA is getting has been distributed to the middle part of the state (where the capital is located) and around Philadelphia. It’s coming to the west only in dribbles and drabs, and some western counties haven’t received a single dose.

    And yet the state keeps adding more groups to the eligibility list. Now the governor is adding teachers. Great! Even more competition for a scarce or non-existent supply of vaccine. Should not be this way. The President thinks everyone will be vaccinated in a couple of months. Hate to tell him, but at the rate PA is going, full vaccination won’t occur till the end of the year at least.

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