CDC chief warns it is too quickly in U.S. to raise COVID-19 masks mandates

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The top of the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention mentioned on Sunday it’s “completely” too quickly to raise masks mandates, citing every day COVID-19 case numbers that regardless of latest declines stay greater than double the degrees seen final summer season.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s warning that face-covering necessities are nonetheless important got here simply days after governors in Iowa and Montana lifted long-standing masks mandates of their states.

Showing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Walensky mentioned stopping additional surges of an infection is essential to soundly reopening colleges and regaining some degree of social normalcy till collective COVID-19 immunity might be achieved via mass vaccinations.

Whether or not Individuals can stay up for strolling down the road with out sporting a masks by the top of the yr “very a lot depends upon how we behave proper now,” she mentioned.

Requested if it was nonetheless too early for states to remove guidelines requiring the usage of face masks in public, Walensky replied, “Completely.”

Whereas COVID-19 an infection charges and hospitalizations seem like waning, the US has an extended approach to go earlier than it may well safely return to a mask-less regular, she mentioned.

“The instances are greater than two-and-a-half-fold occasions what we noticed over the summer season,” mentioned Walensky, who was sworn in as CDC director final month after President Joe Biden took workplace. “It’s encouraging to see these traits coming down however they’re coming down from a very excessive place.”

Well being consultants say population-wide masks sporting is without doubt one of the best methods of pushing COVID-19 transmission all the way down to controllable ranges.

Continued adherence to social distancing and face coverings stays particularly pressing given the dangers posed by new coronavirus variants discovered to be extra transmissible, and presumably extra proof against antibodies, than the unique pressure.

COVID-19’s grip on the US remained sturdy on Sunday, with 27.6 million instances confirmed and greater than 484,600 lives misplaced to the extremely contagious respiratory virus so far, in line with a Reuters tally.

The U.S. inoculation marketing campaign has gained appreciable momentum since a sluggish begin in December, with 52.9 million whole vaccines administered to date, in line with the CDC.

As the US continues wrestling to ramp up vaccine provides and distribution, an unusually broad swath of wintry climate in latest days precipitated the newest setback, forcing mass vaccination facilities from Texas to Virginia to droop operations.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Extra reporting by Raphael Satter in Washington; Enhancing by Steve Gorman and Daniel Wallis

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