U.S. Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky said Friday that hospitalizations and new COVID-19 cases continue to rise, driven by infections in younger adults, who have not yet been vaccinated.
During a White House COVID-19 Response Team virtual news briefing, Walensky noted hospitalizations for COVID-19 rose by seven percent over the past seven days, while new daily infections rose by an average of two percent during the same period.
She noted most of those new cases were among adults age 55 and younger, who have not yet been vaccinated. Walensky also noted a decrease in hospitalizations for those age 65 and older, demonstrating the importance of getting vaccinated, since many older Americans are eligible and have received vaccines.
To further encourage people to get shots, President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, Anthony Fauci, addressed the issue of vaccine hesitancy based on mistrust of how quickly COVID-19 vaccines were made available. Fauci detailed the years of research that went into developing vaccines.
“The bottom line is, this did not happen in eleven months. It was due to an extraordinary multidisciplinary effort …that had been underway for decades before the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fauci told reporters on Friday.
Also at the briefing, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy addressed the toll the pandemic has taken on mental health in the United States, citing new statistics this week showing one in eight people who contracted COVID-19 were diagnosed with a new psychiatric or neurological condition, with anxiety and depression chief among them.
Murthy said younger adults, minorities, essential workers, and unpaid caregivers were disproportionately affected by mental health issues. The U.S. government is providing $3 billion to states to address the problem, and the recently-passed American Rescue plan included another $3.56 billion for prevention and treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders.
The surgeon general said getting vaccinated can also provide joy and relief to people suffering from pandemic-related anxiety.
The White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Jeff Zients, said three million vaccinations were delivered between April 2 and April 8, with a total of 158 million vaccinations delivered so far. He said that puts the country on track to meet President Biden’s goal of having 200 million Americans vaccinated by the end of April, his first 100 days in office.