More than half of the population in the United States age 65 or older is at least partially vaccinated against Covid-19, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s Covid-19 response team said Friday.
It is creating more pressure for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release its guide to what people can safely do after being fully vaccinated.
At a media briefing on Friday, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky that it is urgent and promised that the guidance will come soon.
“These are complex topics, and science is evolving rapidly,” she said. “The CDC is working to ensure that the communications we release with this guide are clear. We make sure and take the time to get this right.”
While the rate of vaccination is accelerating in the United States – more than 2 million doses were administered on Thursday – the number of new Covid-19 cases has begun to stagnate after weeks of steady decline, Walensky warned.
“Recent data shows that cases continue to fluctuate around 60,000 to 70,000 cases a day,” she said. The drop in the number of reported deaths each day is also flat to around 1,900.
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These numbers are “still too high,” Walensky said, “and now have the record for more than a week at levels we saw in late summer.”
The latest information is of concern to public health officials – especially as some states, including Texas and Mississippi – have announced that they will begin easing the rules for wearing face clothing.
The slower decline in cases suggests the country is “in danger of a new rise” of Covid-19, Drs. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the briefing.
Meanwhile, the release of guidelines from the CDC on how fully vaccinated individuals can interact with other fully vaccinated people – who were expected to be released this week – has been delayed.
The CDC said it is working to simplify the guidance and make it clear to the public. There has been speculation that the guide could suggest that fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated without masks.
“I know the idea of relaxing wearing a mask and getting back to everyday activities is appealing. But we are not there yet,” Walensky said.
“I think the CDC is taking the time to make sure they are careful and that they do not exceed science,” said Dr. Richard Besser, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a former acting director of the CDC.
Meanwhile, Americans are desperate for permission to reconnect with their loved ones.
“I hope there are some guidelines out there that change so that grandparents who are fully vaccinated can possibly hug their grandchildren,” Besser added.
On Friday, a new CDC report also found that indoor dining in restaurants was associated with an increase in both Covid-19 cases as well as Covid-19 deaths.
The study examined the impact of eating and drinking on the spot.
The “increases in daily rates for Covid-19 cases and deaths grew faster within 40 to 80 days after restaurants were allowed to resume on-site dining,” Walensky said.
She added that the results serve “as a warning of premature termination” of mask mandates. In addition to Texas and Mississippi, Iowa, Montana and North Dakota are also in the process of finalizing rules that require facial coatings.
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According to the CDC, more than 54 million people in the United States have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccination. The number is expected to increase significantly in the coming months, as Biden said Thursday that the country should have enough vaccine doses for each eligible adult by the end of May.
Also on Friday, the administration announced that two stadiums will 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 each day.
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