ATLANTA, Ga. – A top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday that experts are seeing a “distressing trend” as coronavirus cases surge across the United States, particularly in the Midwest.
“Unfortunately, we're seeing a distressing trend here in the United States,” said Dr. Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases. “Smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends and neighbors may be driving transmission as well, especially as they move indoors.”
Butler also urged Americans to continue taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, like practicing social distancing, washing your hands and wearing masks.
“I recognize we are all getting tired of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives, we get tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it’s ever been and I’d say it’s more important than ever as we move into the fall season.”
Butler made the comments during a press briefing with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.
CDC, HHS give an update on COVID-19 response https://t.co/YxLSMGZgbs
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During the briefing, Azar and Redfield discussed Operation Warp Speed, a partnership initiated by the Trump administration to accelerate the testing, supply, development and distribution COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
The goal of partnership is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine with initial doses available by January 2021, according to the HHS website.
Azar provided an updated timeline on when we can expect vaccine to be distributed and who will receive the first doses. According to him, a vaccine would be widely available by late March or early April.
“We expect that we would have by the end of this year, enough vaccine that is FDA authorized, to be able to vaccinate all of our vulnerable, the most vulnerable individuals,” said Azar. “Then by the end of January, we expect we’ll have enough to vaccinate all seniors as well as our health care workers and first responders. And by the end of March to early April, enough vaccine for all Americans who would want to take a vaccine.”
Wednesday’s briefing comes as many states report increases in the number of COVID-19 cases. The U.S. has surpassed 8.3 million cases and more than 221,500 people have died across the nation from the disease, according to an ongoing tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Experts are concerned there may be a major spike in cases during the fall and winter months, which will strain the country's health care system, which will also be caring for flu patients.
With many people still struggling amid the pandemic, Congress and the Trump administration still have not come to a deal on another COVID-19 relief bill. As for the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has signaled his chamber may not support the potential deal.