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This COVID Warning Had CDC Chief Near Tears

“I know what it’s like to pull up to your hospital every day and see the extra morgue sitting outside.”
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising again, and Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned yesterday of "impending doom," fighting back tears. The pandemic could have a fourth surge if we don't all follow the public health measures, she warned, in a raw appeal "off script" yesterday at the White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing. Read on for her full warning, and to see what harrowing images nearly brought her to tears—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.


Dr. Walensky Warned She Had Feelings of "Impending Doom"

Two exhausted and desperate surgeons.

Dr. Walensky began by summarizing the "concerning trends in the data": "Yesterday, we in the United States surpassed 30 million cases of COVID-19. CDC's most recent data show that the seven-day average of new cases is slightly less than 60,000 cases per day. This is a 10 percent increase compared to the prior seven-day period."

"Hospitalizations have also increased," she continued. "The most recent seven-day average, about 4,800 admissions per day, is up from 4,600 admissions per day in the prior seven-day period. And deaths, which typically lag behind cases and hospitalizations, have now started to rise, increasing nearly 3 percent to a seven-day average of approximately 1,000 deaths per day." Next, see what drove her to near tears.


Dr. Walensky Said She Was "Scared" There Will Be More Deaths, More Heartache

Infected patient in quarantine lying in bed in hospital, coronavirus concept.

Walensky then said she "made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth, even if it was not the news we wanted to hear. Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth and I have to hope and trust you all listen." 

"I'm going to pause here," she said. " 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," she said. " 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."


Dr. Walensky Pleaded That We All "Hold On a Little While Longer"

Rochelle Walensky

Reflecting on that traumatic period, Dr. Walensky said, "I didn't know at the time when it was — when it would stop; we didn't have the science to tell us. We were just scared. We have come such a long way. Three historic scientific breakthrough vaccines, and we are rolling them out so very fast."

"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 said. " 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."


Dr. Walensky Warned That We Could Become Like Europe, With Major Spikes in Cases

COVID-19 coronavirus in France, medical mask on gargoyle of Notre Dame in Paris

"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," said Walensky. "And since that time, those countries have experienced a consistent and worrying spike in cases. We are not powerless; we can change this trajectory of the pandemic. But it will take all of us, recommitting to following the public health prevention strategies consistently, while we work to get the American public vaccinated. "


Dr. Walensky Called on All Of Us to "Sound the Alarm"

"I'm calling on our elected officials, our faith-based communities, our civic leaders, and our other influencers in communities across the nation, and I'm calling on every single one of you to sound the alarm to carry these messages into your community and your spheres of influence," she said. "We do not have the luxury of inaction. For the health of our country, we must work together now to prevent a fourth surge."

RELATED: Doctors Say "DO NOT" Do This After Your COVID Vaccine.


Dr. Walensky Said to End This Pandemic, Get Vaccinated

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization

"And after that honest plea, I want to reflect on so many reasons we have to be hopeful and why your actions today can get us out of this soon. As I shared last week, we continue to get more and more real-world evidence on the protection of COVID-19 vaccines provide. And CDC scientists have been working since these vaccines were first authorized to expand the evidence supporting their effectiveness." She shared a CDC study proving "the real-world effectiveness of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in preventing infections among nearly 4,000 healthcare personnel, first responders, and other essential workers in six states from mid-December to mid-March." So heed her warning, and get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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