President Biden has increased vaccine doses to pharmacies to help speed up inoculations in light of recent infections.
In the United States, public health officials are bracing for a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as infections have been steadily increasing despite the growing number of vaccinations.
This past Monday, the country reported 69,000 new cases, with daily averages over the last 7 days hovering around 65,000.
Over the past 2 weeks, new cases have been up almost 19% with states such as Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, and Illinois reporting alarming jumps in hospitalizations.
In New Jersey, which has seen the highest rate of recent infections in the country, nearly 31,000 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 7 days. The state reported 3,174 new cases on Monday and has been averaging 4,000 new cases a day over the past week. The transmission rate, which indicates how many cases result from one infection, has stayed above 1. However, hospitalizations have remained relatively stable.
In response to the increase in numbers, Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued a warning of “impending doom” and pleaded for states to not let up on mitigation strategies.
"I'm speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director, and not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer," Walensky said during a briefing on Monday. "I so badly want to be done, I know you all so badly want to be done, we're just almost there, but not quite yet. And so, I'm asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends."
President Biden also urged state and local governments to maintain their mask mandates during the same briefing, and that the few states who have done away with them to restore them until the country is truly ready.
"We are not powerless. We can change this trajectory of the pandemic," Walensky said. "But it will take all of us recommitting to following the public health prevention strategies consistently while we work to get the American public vaccinated."