A top public health official on Friday she was "deeply concerned" about the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, again urging Americans to continue to take precautions like wearing masks, even as states lift restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus and more people continue to be vaccinated.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the number of new cases over a 7-day period increased 7% over the previous week and hospitalizations are also increasing, which could be a warning sign for another surge in cases public health officials say could be avoided.
"I remain deeply concerned about this trajectory. We have seen cases and hospital admissions move from historic declines to stagnations to increases. And we know from prior surges that if we don't control things now, there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again," she said in a briefing.
An average of 2.5 million Americans are now receiving the COVID-19 vaccine every day, White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zeints said in the briefing.
The supply of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson is also expected to increase to 11 million doses next week, meeting the company's promise to deliver 20 million doses by the end of March.
But even as vaccinations increase, Walensky said it's still too soon for people to stop wearing masks or socializing indoors unless it's within the CDC guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated.
"This has been a long year, and I know people are tired and they don't want to hear that it's going to take us a little while longer, but it's going to take us a little while longer," she said.
"What I would say is, this is an individual choice. People can practice these mitigation strategies with or without their government -- their government efforts."