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CDC Chief Issues Stern Warning About COVID Spread

Infections could rapidly increase due to this factor.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Rochelle Walensky

After several months consisting of surge-upon-surge of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, the numbers are finally starting to decrease. However, during Wednesday's White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned that things could turn south once again, due to the highly transmissible variants circulating around the country. Read on to find out what she had to say about them—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these  Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

CDC Chief Says We Cannot "Let Our Guard Down"

Dr. Walensky pointed out that "while cases and hospitalizations continue to move in the right direction we remain in the midst of a very serious pandemic, and we continue to have more cases than we did even during last summer's peak." She also added that "the continued spread of variants that are more transmissible could jeopardize the progress we have made in the last month if we let our guard down." 

"As of yesterday, we have confirmed 1,277 cases of the B117 variant across 42 States, including the first case of the BB117 variant with the E4484K substitution that had previously been found in the UK," she revealed. "19 cases of B1351 variants have been found across 10 States and three cases of the P1 variant has been found in two States."

She continued to explain that the CDC is releasing two studies focused on how transmissible these variants really are. One of them, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, describes the various ways eight people were infected with the B117 variant first detected in the UK—none of whom had actually traveled there. The other highlights how the B1351 rapidly spread in Zambia, "where the average number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases increased 16-fold from December to January, which coincided with the detection of the B1351 in specimens collected in December," she explained. "The  B1351 variant was first detected in South Africa and Zambia shares substantial commerce and tourism linkages with South Africa, which may have contributed to the transmission of this variant across the two countries."

"I know these variants are concerning, especially as we're seeing signs of progress. I'm talking about them today because I am concerned too," she admitted. 

Fortunately, "the science to date suggests that the same prevention actions applied to these variants," she added. "This includes wearing a well-fitting mask that completely covers your nose and mouth, social distancing when around others who don't live with you, avoiding travel crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, washing your hands often, and getting vaccinated with the vaccine is available to you."

"It is more important than ever for us to do everything we can to decrease the spread in our communities by increasing our proven measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19. Fewer cases means fewer opportunities for the variant to spread and fewer opportunities for new variants to emerge," she concluded.

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

How to Survive the Pandemic

So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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