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CDC Chief Says When You Can Finally Relax About COVID

The pandemic isn’t over yet.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

A few months into vaccination efforts, millions of Americans now have immunity against COVID-19 and infections, hospitalizations, and deaths attributed to the virus continue to drop. However, at the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warns that there is a "wild card" that could impact the effectiveness of the vaccine. Read on to find out what it is—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.

1

The Good News First: Cases are Going Down

Female doctor in mask making notes in medical card while talking to patient at hospital
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Dr. Walensky started by going over the latest stats. As of May 4, the CDC reported just over 32,000 new cases of COVID-19, with a new seven day average of about 48,000 cases per day. "This represents yet another decrease of about 12% from the prior seven day average. And every day with the daily cases, continuing to fall, we are hopeful about these really encouraging trends," she added. The seven day average of hospital admissions is just over 3,900, "a positive sign with another back-to-back decrease of almost 10% from the prior seven day period." Deaths too have declined to a new low of 400 per day. 

2

Dr. Walensky Addressed "When Will This Be Over"

Nurse taking blood sample from young female patient in the background. Selective focus on sample tube.
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"Something I'm often asked is when will this pandemic be over? And when can we go back to normal? The reality? It all depends on the actions we take," she continued introducing a newly published article in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality weekly report that provides some insights using data and evidence to various scenarios of what will happen with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and how it depends on how many people get vaccinated and whether people continue to follow prevention measures.

"The team looked at four scenarios each with different assumptions about vaccination coverage combined with other strategies to prevent spread of COVID-19 such as physical distancing, masking isolation and quarantine," she explained. "The models forecasted some really good news and an important reminder. In good news, the models projected a sharp decline in cases by July, 2021 and an even faster decline. If more people get vaccinated sooner, the results remind us that we have the path out of this and models once projecting really grim news now offer reasons to be quite hopeful for what the summer may bring.

Additionally, "the models give us an important reminder," she continued. "They project that local conditions and emerging variants are putting many states at risk for increases in COVID-19 cases, especially if we do not increase the rate of vaccinations and if we do not keep our current mitigation strategies in place until we have a critical mass of people vaccinated. More specifically, we need to keep vaccinating people, but we all need to keep practicing certain prevention interventions to help us get to the predicted good outcomes."

3

Dr. Walensky Warned of This Wild Card

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And despite "seeing progress in terms of decreased cases, hospitalizations and deaths," she pointed to "a wild card" that could effectively "reverse this progress we have made and could set us back reassuringly." What is it? "As Dr. Fauci said on Friday, we are seeing that our current vaccines are protecting against the predominant circulating in the country. Simply put the sooner we get more and more people vaccinated, the sooner we will all get back to normal."

"We are not out of the woods yet, but we could be very close. All of us are getting fully vaccinated and continuing our prevention efforts can help us turn the corner on the pandemic as early as July and set us forward on a path toward a more normal lifestyle," she continued. 

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4

Dr. Walensky Said When We'd Be Out of the Woods

Woman removing face mask from her face outdoors.
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When will we be out of the woods? It depends on both the vaccination rates and the rate of decline of cases."It'll be the intersection of those two that we're really looking at. When we see that intersection of high vaccination rates, low case rates, we will look forward to releasing further guidance on releasing some of the restrictions that we currently have in place," she explained.  

She also added that Biden's goal of getting 70 percent of the country vaccinated wouldn't be effective unless 70 percent of those in "any given community" are. "This virus will be an opportunist and we'll have outbreaks in those singular communities. So not only is it 70% across the nation, but it is 70% of each of these individual communities," she clarified.

So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, 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.