CDC chief: “We can turn things around”

Boston Statehouse

FILE – In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 file photo, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, speaks during an event in Wilmington, Del., to announce President-elect Joe Biden’s health care team. Walensky, 51, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, is expected to become CDC director after Biden is inaugurated. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

BOSTON (SHNS) – It’s not just the trend lines in Massachusetts that are improving. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control, said there are some “hopeful signs” nationally in the fight against COVID-19, including a 21 percent decrease in new cases over the past week to 166,000 per day.

New hospital admissions for the week ending Jan. 25 were also down 15 percent to 13,000 a day, and the average number of daily deaths nationwide from COVID-19 has dropped 4.9 percent.

But Walensky, an infectious diseases specialist who worked at Massachusetts General Hospital before being tapped by Biden, said the country is far from out of the woods. “Our case rates remain extraordinarily high and now is the time to remain vigilant,” Walensky said, during the first briefing of Biden’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Walensky said 78,000 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19 around the country, and at the current trajectory 479,000 to 514,000 deaths will be recorded by Feb. 20. She added, “If we are united in action, we can turn things around.”

Walensky also sought to assure people that vaccines remain safe, despite reports of some patients experiencing allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Walensky said anaphylaxis and other reactions are treatable and far less dangerous than contracting COVID-19.

“Let me be clear, these are rare, treatable outcomes and the COVID-19 vaccines are safe,” she said.

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