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US in ‘complicated stage’ of COVID-19 pandemic with cases and deaths increasing while vaccinations ramp up, Walensky says

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in Washington on April 15.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in Washington on April 15.Amr Alfiky/Associated Press

The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is in a “complicated stage” as cases, deaths, and hospitalizations have increased in the past week while vaccinations continue to ramp up, the chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

About 209 million vaccine doses have been administered in the country, with an average of about 3 million doses administered per day. At the same time, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have increased since the previous week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 briefing Monday morning.

The country is now seeing about 67,000 daily COVID-19 cases, while that metric stood at about 53,000 one month ago, and daily COVID-19 deaths have increased for six consecutive days to about 695 deaths per day, Walensky said.

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“I want to recognize that we remain in a complicated stage,” Walensky said. “On the one hand, more people in the United States are being vaccinated every single day at an accelerated pace. On the other hand, cases and hospitalizations are increasing in some areas of the country, and cases among younger people who have not yet been vaccinated are also increasing.”

Americans are able to play a role in “turning the tide” and “trend our cases down” by getting vaccinated, Walensky said.

Walensky’s comments came on the day states made all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines under a deadline President Biden set earlier this month, a milestone that represents a “tremendous step forward in our efforts to end this pandemic,” Walensky said.

In Massachusetts, that means vaccine eligibility expanded to include people ages 16 through 54, about 1.7 million more residents.

The CDC reported over the weekend that more than half of all US adults have now received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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“Here’s the bottom line: getting a vaccine will help protect you,” Walensky said. “It will help protect others, and it will help us end this pandemic. The more people get vaccinated, the fewer infections there will be, which means fewer variables and fewer restrictions will occur and the quicker we can get back to doing the things we love.”

On Sunday, Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health and a leading expert on infectious diseases, said in a tweet that COVID-19 infection rates in the country appear “so unusual.”

With the COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom becoming the dominant strain in the country coupled with vaccinations, the number of virus cases has remained relatively flat in the last two months, he said.


Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.