US Health Official: ‘Now is Not the Time’ to End COVID-19 Restrictions

The head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Wednesday “now is not the time” to lift COVID-19 restrictions, one day after the governor of Texas announced the southern U.S. state was “100 percent open.”  At a virtual news briefing for the White House COVID-19 response, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the next month or two will be pivotal in deciding the trajectory of the pandemic.    FILE – In this image from video, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a briefing on the Biden administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. (White House via AP)On one hand, she noted infection rates across the country have been leveling off, but, she said, COVID-19 variants such as the highly transmissible so-called British strain, are poised to surge. This threatens to destroy what progress has been made.   Walensky also recognized that pandemic fatigue is winning out and people have begun ignoring measures that she says have successfully contributed to driving down U.S. infection rates.   The CDC director said this is occurring just as the United States begins a program to vaccinate the entire nation over the course of three or four months.  Walensky urged Americans to keep wearing masks and communities to encourage mask use. She advocated for precautions such as avoiding travel, crowds and to continue practicing personal hygiene, whether it is government-mandated or not.   Texas’ Republican Governor Greg Abbott Tuesday lifted his state’s mask-wearing mandate, along with all other restrictions on businesses, saying Texas has mastered the daily habits necessary to avoid getting COVID-19. 

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