Amid optimism that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, it would be easy to shrug off the words of Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  1. Dr. Walensky, during a White House health briefing on Monday, affirmed that our country has made tremendous strides in fighting the virus but warned Americans to resist letting their guard down now.
  2. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” she said. “But right now, I’m scared.”
  3. Then she continued.
  4. “I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.”
  5. These are not words we want to hear. But we must listen.
  6. While hope has never been higher or stronger in the year-long effort to control the spread of COVID-19, there are troubling signs that another wave of infection and death is upon us.
  7. Nationwide, cases of the virus are up about 10% over the past week to about 60,000 cases per day. Hospitalizations and deaths are rising as well. That’s what prompted the warning from Dr. Walensky, who voiced concerns that the U.S. could follow European countries into another spike in cases and suffer needless deaths unless immediate actions are taken.
  8. President Joe Biden echoed her words and urged governors to reinstate mask mandates and other restrictions that many states have or are planning to ease.
  9. “This is deadly serious,” Biden said.
  10. In Illinois, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have been rising the past week, even while deaths have continued to decrease, according to Illinois Department of Health statistics. Previous tracking has indicated that a rise in deaths generally follows a rise in cases and hospitalizations.
  11. Gov. JB Pritzker continues to urge mask wearing and is unlikely to take any steps that would fuel the current resurgence of the virus. Given the uptick in cases statewide and the Biden administration’s pleas, the governor is right to remain steadfast in his approach.
  12. Vaccinations have established extraordinary momentum throughout the country, but health officials say a new surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths could blunt their positive effect. More cases will likely allow new variants of the virus to emerge and spread, which has the potential of lessening the effectiveness of current vaccines.
  13. Americans have come so far in dealing with this pandemic. As the president says, now is not the time to let down.
  14. We urge state and local officials, including the governor, to resist those who urge them to retreat in this crucial battle.
  15. Says Dr. Walensky: “Just please hold on a little while longer.”

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