During a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing Monday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the U.S. on Sunday surpassed 30 million cases of COVID-19 and the most recent seven-day average of new cases, at 60,000 per day, is up 10 percent over the prior seven-day period, according to Walensky.

“I’m going to lose the script,” she said. “And I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom. We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared. I know what it’s like as a physician to stand in that patient room – gowned, gloved, masked, shielded – and to be the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.”

At 4,800, the most recent seven-day average of hospitalizations is up from 4,600 admissions per day in the prior seven-day period. And deaths have started to rise again, increasing nearly 3 percent to a seven-day average of approximately 1,000 deaths per day.

Walensky called on elected officials, community leaders and influencers to “sound the alarm” about the importance of recommitting to behaviors to prevent the transmission of the virus while work continues on vaccinations.

“The trajectory of the pandemic in the United States looks similar to many other countries in Europe, including Germany, Italy, and France looked like just a few weeks ago,” she said. “And since that time, those countries have experienced a consistent and worrying spike in cases.”

Walensky will be in Boston to tour a new federally-support mass vaccination site at the Hynes Convention Center with Gov. Charlie Baker and other officials today.

The increase in case counts and positive test rates in Massachusetts have also prompted calls from lawmakers and public health experts here for the governor to pull back on some of his economic reopening plans and relaxed gathering size limits.

Baker’s office said the governor will be touring the mass vaccination at 1 p.m. with Walensky, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Fenton, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Samantha Phillips, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

The B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19, first detected in the United Kingdom, adds to the urgency of vaccination efforts, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch told Boston city councilors Monday.

“We are in a race between vaccinating the population and having a bigger problem on our hands as B.1.1.7 spreads,” he said during a virtual hearing of the council’s Committee on Government Operations.

Lipsitch said 411 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant had been detected in Massachusetts as of Sunday. The variant seems to be more contagious, he said, meaning that control measures that have been in use over the past year “may not be as effective to contain this new form of the virus.”

“If we in the old days and the present time have had to stop something like two-thirds of the transmissions that were happening by doing social distancing, masking and other interventions, we may now have to stop something like 80 or 85 percent of transmissions for this new variant if it is twice as contagious, and that’s just more difficult and requires more intense interventions,” he said.

CDC Director ‘Scared’ About New Surge, Visits Mass.

by State House News Service time to read: 2 min