Top Biden administration officials warned on Wednesday (May 18) that one-third of Americans live in communities experiencing rising levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and urged them to resume taking personal protection measures, including wearing masks.
The increase in new infections—nearing 100,000 a day—comes as the nation heads into Memorial Day weekend with its large gatherings and travel. That case count is almost certainly an undercount, officials said, given the widespread use of at-home tests for which results are often not reported to health officials.
“As we’re currently seeing a steady rise of cases in parts of the country, we encourage everyone to use the menu of tools we have today to prevent further infection and severe disease, including wearing a mask, getting tested, accessing treatments early if infected and getting vaccinated or boosted,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
Officials warned that the U.S. will be unable to respond effectively in the coming months if Congress does not soon appropriate billions of dollars in COVID-19 aid to buy a new tranche of antiviral treatments, vaccines and tests.
However, they admit the current situation is far less worrying than December’s Omicron variant surge.