Don't be fooled into letting your guard down against Covid, US Surgeon General says
Although vaccinations have offered many in the US hope of curbing the Covid-19 pandemic, officials are struggling to get rates where they need to be. And having been tricked by the virus before, the US Surgeon General says now is the time to be cautious.
"There have been multiple times when we have been fooled by Covid-19, when cases went down and we thought we were in the clear and then cases went up again," Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "It means we shouldn't let down our guard until cases not only come down but stay down, and right now cases are actually going up. Cases are going up, hospitalizations are going up, death rates are ticking up."
The average of new daily cases this week is up 66% from last week and 145% from two weeks ago, as cases surge in 44 states, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In addition, hospitalizations are up 26% from last week.
And 99.5% of deaths are among the unvaccinated, Murthy told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday -- a figure cited by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier in the month.
Amid rising Covid-19 metrics and the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, more than half of the US is not yet fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, an obstacle that has become increasingly worrisome to health experts as resistance to vaccination rises with the spread of misinformation. If many of those who are holding out do not get inoculated, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the US can expect a "smoldering" outbreak for "a considerable period of time."
Already some hospitals are again being overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, Murthy said.
"I am heartbroken to see just how hard (physicians are) working -- how exhausted they are," Murthy said. "Many of them are suffering with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal ideation, as a result of the stress that they have endured during this pandemic."
Murthy urged Americans to get vaccinated -- if not for themselves then for health care workers who need protection from burnout and children who are not yet eligible for the protection provided by the vaccine.
Even if parents are vaccinated, wearing a mask in areas of high transmission risk is "the right thing to do," he said. Murthy -- the father of two children, ages 3 and 4 -- said he takes such precautions because "I want to take every possible measure to protect my child."
"Our kids who cannot get vaccinated, they depend on us being vaccinated to protect them from the spread of the virus. We are their shields," Murthy said. "Even if you don't want to do it for yourself, consider getting vaccinated to protect the children in your community. They are depending on us."