More than half of people 65 or older in the United States are at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response team said on Friday.
This creates more pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to publish their advice on what it is safe for people to do after being fully immunized.
At a press conference on Friday, CDC director Dr Rochelle Walensky acknowledged the urgency and promised advice would come soon.
“These are complex questions and science evolves rapidly,” she said. “DCC strives to ensure that the communications we make about these guidelines are clear. We make sure, and take the time, to get it right.”
As the vaccination rate accelerates in the United States – more than 2 million doses were administered on Thursday – the number of new cases of Covid-19 has started to stagnate after weeks of steady decline., Walensky warned.
“The most recent data shows that cases continue to fluctuate between 60,000 and 70,000 cases per day,” she said. The decline in the number of deaths reported each day also leveled off at around 1,900.
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These numbers are “still too high,” Walensky said, “and have now peaked for more than a week at levels we saw during the late summer wave.”
The latest information is of concern to public health officials – especially as some states, including Texas and Mississippi – have announced they will begin to relax rules on wearing masks.
The slowdown in the decline in cases suggests the country is “at risk of another peak” of Covid-19, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during the briefing.
Meanwhile, the release of CDC guidelines on how fully vaccinated individuals can interact with other fully vaccinated people – which were due to be released this week – has been delayed.
The CDC said it was working to simplify the guidance and make it clear to the public. There has been speculation that the guidelines could suggest that fully vaccinated people can congregate indoors with other fully vaccinated people without a mask.
“I know the idea of wearing a relaxing mask and going back to your daily activities is appealing. But we’re not there yet,” Walensky said.
“I think the CDCs take their time to make sure that they are careful, that they don’t go beyond science,” said Dr Richard Besser, chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former acting director of the CDC .
Meanwhile, Americans desperately need permission to reconnect with loved ones.
“I hope there is some advice out there that changes so that grandparents who are fully immunized can hug their grandchildren,” Besser added.
Also on Friday, a new CDC report found indoor dining at restaurants was associated with an increase in Covid-19 cases, as well as Covid-19 deaths.
The study looked at the impact of eating and drinking on the spot.
“The increase in daily rates of Covid-19 cases and deaths increased more rapidly within 40 to 80 days of restaurants being allowed to resume on-site meals,” Walensky said.
She added that the results serve as a “warning about the premature lifting” of mask warrants. In addition to Texas and Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota are also in the process of ending rules requiring face covers.
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According to the CDC, more than 54 million people in the United States have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. That number is expected to increase significantly in the coming months, as Biden said on Thursday the country is expected to have enough vaccine doses for every eligible adult by the end of May.
Also on Friday, the administration announced that two stadiums would serve as federal Covid-19 vaccination sites. These are the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.
Both sites are expected to administer at least 6,000 vaccinations per day.
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