The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director became emotional Monday while speaking about “the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.”
“When I first started at CDC about two months ago, I made a promise to you. I would tell you the truth even if it was not the news you wanted,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
“Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth and I have to hope and trust you will listen. I’m gonna pause here, I’m gonna lose the script and I’m gonna reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” the CDC director said. “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.”
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Moderna vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. President Joe Biden said March 2 that the U.S. is set to have vaccines available for all American adults by May 31.
The U.S. has nearly 550,000 reported COVID-19 deaths and over 30 million reported cases as of Monday at 11:27 a.m., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of March 24, daily cases organized as a weekly average rose 6.7% compared to the previous week, according to a CDC post updated March 26. Daily hospitalizations went up 0.1% compared to the week before.
Walensky empathized with the physician who is “the last person to touch someone else’s loved one because their loved one couldn’t be there.” Walensky said she understands the concern about having “the resources to take care of the patients in front of you.”
The CDC director further empathized with “that feeling of nausea when you read the crisis standards of care and you wonder whether there are gonna be enough ventilators to go around and who’s gonna make that choice.”
“I know what it is like to pull up to your hospital everyday and see the extra morgue sitting outside,” Walensky said. “I didn’t know at the time 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 ’em out so very fast.”
“So I’m speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director and 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,” Walensky 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.”
Walensky asked people not to give up and to receive the vaccine when permitted “so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends.”