CDC director: Now is not the time to relax COVID-19 restrictions

D.C. Bureau

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WASHINGTON, DC (NEXSTAR) — The White House COVID-19 Response Team is gearing up to send a third manufacturer’s vaccine to the states as early as next week.

The FDA appeared ready to authorize the Johnson & Johnson single-dose shot during an all-day review Friday. The company said it will provide 20 million doses by the end of March and 80 million more by June.

“This is our path out,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky during the team’s briefing Friday.

Walensky stressed another vaccine couldn’t come at a better time, following the highest peak of the pandemic in the U.S.

“Cases, hospital admissions and deaths all remain very high,” she said.

The U.S. recently surpassed more than half a million deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the more infectious mutation of the virus from the U.K. may become the most dominant strain in the U.S. by the end of March.

“Viruses will not mutate if you don’t give them the opportunity to spread and replicate,” Fauci said.

The Biden administration announced Friday it is asking U.S. businesses to require masks and social distancing, offer employees incentives to get vaccinated, and promote safety measures and vaccinations to their customers.

“Now is not the time to relax restrictions,” Walensky said. “We may be done with the virus, but clearly, the virus is not done with us.”

The White House COVID Response Team said these next two months will be crucial as the U.S. moves closer to vaccinating most Americans. It reported one in five adults and half of Americans 65 years and older have received at least their first shot.

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