CDC director has feeling of 'impending doom' amid new spike

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We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope.

"Right now, I'm scared", added Dr. Walensky, "I know what it's like to stand in that patient room gowned, gloved, masked, shielded, and to be the last person to touch someone else's loved one".

"I'm going to lose the script and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom", Walensky told a briefing with reporters.

The United States surpassed 30 million total cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, and the seven-day average of new cases was slightly less than 60,000 per day, she said. The US is now where those countries were just a few weeks ago, she said.

Walensky recalled her experiences as a frontline physician at Massachusetts General Hospital during the earlier part of the pandemic.

The theme of a White House briefing Monday was that this is a awful time for the country to let down its guard and reopen as some states are doing. "People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing".

Biden called on states and localities to reinstate mask mandates, calling masks "the only way we ever get back to normal".

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The White House said it expected the private sector to take the lead on verification of COVID-19 vaccines, or so-called vaccine passports, and would not issue a federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential.

Hours after Walensky spoke, Biden directed his COVID-19 team to ensure that there was a vaccination site within five miles of 90 percent of Americans within three weeks. Quick vaccination would still depend on supply.

The moratorium, initially put in place previous year, provides protection for renters out of concern that having families lose their homes and move into shelters or share crowded conditions with relatives or friends during the pandemic would further spread the highly contagious virus, which has killed more than 545,000 people in the United States.

Meanwhile, the White House is moving to double the number of pharmacies participating in the federal retail pharmacy program - which has emerged as among the most efficient avenues for administering vaccines - and increase the number of doses for them to deliver. More than 50 million people have received two doses, and 15% of the population is now fully vaccinated.

Another Biden adviser, Andy Slavitt, said Monday: "Hope is around the corner". "Now's not the time to celebrate". However, Fauci warned, "if we open up completely now, that is premature given the level of infection". "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".

"We will get to the point pretty quickly where we're saying, 'OK now we're into the really hard phase of this where we're down to the population that is not so willing to get the vaccine, '" she said.

Walensky pointed to an uptick in travel and loosening virus restrictions for the increase in cases.

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