It’s never a great sign when the CDC Director nearly starts crying while discussing a deadly virus that’s already killed nearly 2.8 million people globally, and more than a half-million in the US alone.
But that’s what happened on Monday when, during what I assume were supposed to be scripted remarks, Rochelle Walensky veered off course into an emotional plea.
“I’m gonna pause here. I’m gonna lose the script,” Walensky said, before describing “a feeling of impending doom.” The video (below) is from CNBC’s coverage of a press briefing.
“We have so much to look forward to — so much promise and potential of where we are and much reason for hope,” she continued. “But right now I’m scared.”
What’s got Walensky spooked to the brink of tears? Well, rising caseloads and deaths.
The seven-day moving average for cases is back above 60,000 for the first time since March 5, which certainly seems to suggest that Spring Break (which I’m told is a proper noun these days), premature reopenings, the lifting of mask mandates, the relaxation of containment measures, and miscellaneous close-contact revelry might be contributing to a nascent resurgence for COVID, which has spent the majority of Joe Biden’s first few months in office on the back foot.
Biden last week doubled his vaccination goal for the country to 200 million in his first 100 days as president. Herd immunity (or something like it) is just months away, even as concerns about vaccine-resistant variants remain a tail risk, both for markets and society more generally.
News on the vaccine front has been mostly positive, although the same certainly can’t be said for Europe. On Monday, for example, reports suggested New Yorkers 30 years and older would be able to receive a vaccine starting on March 30.
Still, jitters linger. “When we see that uptick in cases what we’ve seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge and surge big,” Walensky went on to warn. “Not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, [I] ask you to just, please, hold on a little while longer,” she begged.
The latest Pew survey showed roughly seven-in-ten US adults said they’d “definitely or probably” get vaccinated. That included 19% who indicated they’d already received at least one dose. That figure (the percentage of Americans who said they’d likely get a shot) has varied from as high as 72% last May to as low as 51% in September. It was 60% in November.
In a useful “fast facts”-type piece, Pew noted that when it comes to people you can count on to get vaccinated, atheists are about as reliable as it gets.
“Nine-in-ten atheists said in February that they would definitely or probably get a vaccine or had already received one,” Pew remarked. God willing. Or not.
Nearly half of White evangelicals (45%) said they would definitely or probably not get a jab.
76% of Americans said the economy would benefit if the majority of the public were vaccinated. Suffice to say the other 24% (most of whom said vaccinations would make little difference economically) are wrong, something they’ll discover the hard way in the event herd immunity isn’t achieved.