Dr. Rochelle Walensky is sounding the alarm over a possible fourth surge in COVID-19 cases as health experts deem Massachusetts among the "areas of greatest concern."
The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans to "just hold on a little longer," Monday. When cases rise as they have over the last week or so, Walensky said, they often "surge and surge big" shortly thereafter.
Walensky pointed to an uptick in travel and loosening virus restrictions for the 10% increase in U.S. cases over the last week. Meanwhile, Massachusetts is among the "areas of greatest concern," according to health experts.
“People want to be done with this. I, too, want to be done with this,” the former chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital said.
"We’ve seen surges after every single holiday,” she reiterated: “Please limit travel to essential travel for the time being.”
Monday's report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showed the seven day positivity rate in the state is at 2.37% -- it's a figure that had been as low as 2% back on March 16.
The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. increased over the past two weeks from 53,670 on March 14 to 63,239 on Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Walensky encouraged everyone to get vaccinated against the virus once they're eligible.
Former U.S. Food and Drug Administrator Scott Gottlieb, a member of Gov. Charlie Baker's COVID-19 Advisory Board, took notice of the Bay State's growth in cases.
"Michigan, Massachusetts, and the New York tri-state region remain some of the areas of greatest concern, where Covid cases are beginning to surge again," Gottlieb tweeted Sunday.
Walensky appealed to elected officials, community leaders and everyday Americans to maintain social distancing measures and mask-wearing.
"I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom," Walensky said. “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."
Massachusetts entered the fourth phase of the Baker administration's reopening plan one week ago, increasing gathering limits for event venues and public settings as well as allowing ballparks, arenas and stadiums to host some fans for games.
Walensky warned states on March 1 against "rolling back" public health precautions too quickly, and since then she has noted that infection numbers nationally are again on the rise.
The U.S. is administering a weekly average of 2.7 million shots per day, which is "significant progress" toward President Joe Biden's fresh goal of administering 200 million shots in his first 100 days in office, said Andy Slavitt, White House senior advisor for COVID response. But he warned now is not the time for people to let their guard down.
"We're headed in the right direction, but we can't slow down," Slavitt said. "Millions remain unvaccinated and at risk."