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March and April are critical months in stopping another Covid-19 surge, CDC director says

   March 9, 2021 1:26 AM
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by Amir Vera and Christina Maxouris, CNN

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HEALTH Covid-19
 
(CNN)The next two months could determine whether the US will experience another surge in coronavirus cases, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After months of devastation, steep decreases have been reported in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. More people are getting vaccinated, and the government on Monday released guidance on safe activities for fully vaccinated people. But now infection numbers have plateaued at very high levels -- with the US averaging 60,000 new cases daily in the past week. Multiple governors have eased safety measures despite health officials' warnings. Spring break events are kicking off across the country, threatening the potential for further spread of the virus. Experts project the country is about to see another dangerous Covid-19 spike.

"There is so much that's critical riding on the next two months," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told the National League of Cities on Monday. "How quickly we will vaccinate versus whether we will have another surge really relies on what happens in March and April." The spike will be fueled by the B.1.1.7 variant, first spotted in the United Kingdom, and will come over the next six to 14 weeks, said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "Four weeks ago, the B.1.1.7 variant made up about 1 to 4% of the virus that we were seeing in communities across the country. Today, it's up to 30 to 40%," Osterholm told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "What we've seen in Europe, when we hit that 50% mark, you see cases surge," he said. Walensky said she hopes local leaders will do what they can to encourage people to wear masks and keep good physical distance from each other -- and advise people to get vaccinated. Walensky also said the US health system is "frail."

"In the last 10 years, we have seen Ebola, we have seen Zika, we have seen H1N1, and now of course we've seen Covid-19," she said. "We do need a massive bolstering of our public health infrastructure and public health workforce ... We saw the manifestation of it being frail in what happened with Covid-19."

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