The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday expanded on comments she made earlier in the day warning of “impending doom” for the country amid an uptick in coronavirus cases.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky made headlines Monday morning after she choked back tears during a White House COVID-19 briefing and pleaded with Americans to “work together” to prevent a fourth surge.
“I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said during the briefing. “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.”
Dr. Walenksy delivered her warning as the rolling daily average of U.S. cases plateaus above 50,000 per day and ticks slightly upward.
Speaking Monday night to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, Dr. Walenksy explained that she “just can’t face another surge” when “there’s so much optimism right at our fingertips.”
“I’m so impressed with our ability to vaccinate at a clip of 3 million vaccinations a day,” she said. “We have 93 million Americans who have gotten their first dose, 51 million who have gotten their second dose.
“We can kind of almost see the end,” she continued. “And yet on the other side, I’m watching the cases tick up. I’m watching us have increased numbers of hyper-transmissible variants. I’m watching our travel numbers tick up. And the sense is, I have seen what it looks like to anticipate the oncoming surge. And what I really would hate to have happen is to have another oncoming surge just as we’re reaching towards getting so many more people vaccinated.
“You know, we’re still losing people at 1,000 deaths a day,” she added.
Dr. Walenksy said she supported President Biden’s call for governors who have dropped their statewide mask mandates to reinstate them and to pause reopenings until the numbers are back on the decline.
“We’re really calling on governors within each state to insure that their mask mandates in those states and to the extent that they do not, we’re calling on citizens to make it their responsibility to make sure that they protect themselves and one another,” she said.