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CDC Director: 'Right Now, I'm Scared'

An emotional Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned that there could be a resurgence of Covid infections even as the U.S. races to vaccinate everyone.
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I'm sick of this pandemic. I'm sick of not being able to go anywhere, see anyone, and even post-vaccine, being limited. I also know that until we get enough people vaccinated, the risk is everywhere, especially among young people who haven't been eligible to get the vaccine.

So does CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who has seen the Florida maskless crowds on spring break, and the declarations of some states that packing restaurants and bars is just fine, while rescinding their mask mandates and even suing cities who keep their mask mandates in place.

I'm not sure if Dr. Walensky's plea will break through, but it should. She put down her script and appealed to everyone to just hold on a little longer.

I’m going to pause here. I’m going to lose the script. 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.

I know what it's like when you're the physician, when you're the healthcare provider and you're worried that you don't have the resources to take care of the patients in front of you. I know that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care and you wonder whether there are going to be enough ventilators to go around and who's going to make that choice. And I know what it's like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.

Her point was clearly made: Wear the mask, maintain social distancing for just a little longer. "So I'm speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director -- not only as your CDC director but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter to ask you to just please hold on a little while longer," she pleaded. "I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done. We are just almost there but not quite yet. 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."

Shortly after that, President Biden also made a statement announcing that they're on track to deliver 33 million vaccines next week, signaling the administration's commitment to getting more shots in more arms. He also called for states to reinstate their mask mandates, and announced that the administration has a goal of having a vaccine location within 5 miles of everyone so that getting vaccinated is easier than it is now.

Using his bully pulpit, he said, "I’m reiterating my call for every governor, mayor, and local leader to maintain and reinstate the mask mandate. Please, this is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down. And business should require masks as well. The failure to take this virus seriously -- precisely what got us in this mess in the first place -- risks more cases and more -- deaths."

Biden made sure to note that this is a two-way street: He's doing his part to get vaccines in arms, and we have to do our part to stay masked and distant.

"Mask up. Mask up. It’s a patriotic duty," he stressed. "It’s the only way we ever get back to normal -- to cheer together in stadiums full of fans; to gather together on holidays again safely; go to graduations, weddings."

So yeah. I'm sick of all of it, but I'm going to wear my mask and wait awhile longer before visiting family or even go out to dinner, because even if I have my vaccine, others don't.

My advice to those of you who are not yet vaccinated? Get it as soon as you can. The pharmacies are federal, not state, sites and they may have broader guidelines. Also the mass vaccination sites. If you're a veteran, try the VA. And don't fret about which vaccine to get. They're all good. Just today, a study came out showing that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have 80 percent efficacy 2 weeks after the FIRST shot, with 90 percent following the second shot. That's AMAZING. By contrast, the flu shot is about 67 percent efficacious.

We're in a race to the finish. Will the vaccines win or the virus? Dr. Walensky is right to be concerned.

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