Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials | Beaufort County Now | Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Press Release:

Via Teleconference  •  Washington D.C.  •  March 24  •  10:37 A.M. EDT

    ACTING ADMINISTRATOR SLAVITT: Good morning. Thank you for joining us. Today, we're joined by Drs. Walensky and Fauci. But let me begin by offering an update on our vaccination rollout.

    We continue to be encouraged by the pace of vaccinations in this country with three approved vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. There are now a total of 84 million people who have received at least one vaccination dose, or one in three adults, and 45 million people who have been fully vaccinated. That's better than one in six adults.

    Importantly, today we cross a milestone: 70 percent of Americans age 65 and over have now received at least one shot. This is a long way from seven weeks ago when only 8 percent of seniors had received a single shot. Now, as a reminder, 80 percent of deaths in the U.S. have occurred among seniors.

    Put another way: No country has vaccinated more people than the U.S. That's the result of our three-pronged strategy to rapidly (inaudible) vaccine supply, to add thousands of vaccinators and thousands more places for people to get vaccinated.

    I also want to briefly touch on upcoming vaccine supply, which we are closely tracking, as are all of you. Yesterday, in our weekly call with governors, we announced that we will have 27 million doses allocated across all distribution channels this week.

    Two thirds of the 27 million doses will be going to states and jurisdictions for them to distribute to distribution sites, and the rest will go to either [other] channels, primarily the pharmacy program. This means that in the 62 days since taking office, we've more than tripled vaccine output from 8.6 million doses to 27 million doses per week.

    We have more work to do. Grinding out these increases week after week takes tremendous effort in partnership with the vaccine manufacturers, the HS — HHS team, and, of course, all the people across the country vaccinating Americans. We intend to keep up this progress until all Americans are vaccinated.

    Before I turn it to Dr. Walensky, I want to call attention to important announcements related to schools.

    Today, at the Department of Education's National Safe School Reopening Summit, President Biden will announce that $81 billion in American Rescue Plan funds will be made available to all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico to support their efforts to safely return to in-person instruction as expeditiously as possible this spring and meet the needs of all students.

    This announcement builds on our ongoing efforts to support schools and staff by investing in testing and prioritizing teachers for vaccination.

    Together, these steps will help return more kids back to the classrooms sooner, ensure equity, and keep us on track to meet the President's goal for school reopenings in his first 100 days.

    Now, with that, I'll turn it over to Dr. Walensky.

    DR. WALENSKY: Thank you, Andy. I'm glad to be back with all of you today. Let's start with an overview of the pandemic.

    As I shared with you on Monday, cases continue to increase slightly. The most recent seven-day average is nearly 55,000 per day, up about 3 percent from the prior seven-day average. The most recent seven-day average of new hospitalizations is about 4,600 per day and is similar to data on Monday. And the latest seven-day average of deaths, approximately 968 per day, has also remained flat this week.

    I continue to be worried about the latest data and the apparent stall we are seeing in the trajectory of the pandemic. CDC is watching these numbers very closely. As I said on Monday, the decisions we make now will determine what the pandemic looks like in the days and weeks ahead.

    We've made such extraordinary progress in the last several weeks, and if we choose to invest in prevention right now, we will ultimately come out of this pandemic faster and with fewer lives lost.

    I've been so impressed by the pace of vaccination — by the way so many Americans have embraced vaccination and have chipped in with their families and communities to help others get vaccinated. We are now vaccinating between 16 and 20 million people a week. And this means that we are closer to resuming activities we love to do with those we care about the most.

    This past year has been challenging, with many of us experiencing so much loss in so many forms. Our daily lives have changed, and we have had to learn new tasks like juggling jobs, childcare, and virtual learning.

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    Numerous studies have found that the pandemic has had a profound effect on our mental wellbeing. Stress, uncertainty, fear, isolation all can take and have taken a substantial toll.

    While we focus on actions to stop the spread of COVID-19, I want to remind you all that it is equally important that we raise up actions to help each other maintain wellness, wellbeing, and resilience. This applies to everyone, whether you are already vaccinated or waiting to be vaccinated. Please take care of yourself.

    If you have gotten out of your old, welcomed routines this past year, like so many of us have, try to get back to those things that make you feel better, give you meaning, and help you feel connected, even if virtually: Connect with people, take a walk, safely connect with a friend, connect or check in on a neighbor while you make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating balanced and healthy meals, and get regular exercise. Doing these simple actions can make such a difference in how we feel and how we respond to stress ...

    Take breaks from the news and social media. While it's good to be informed, hearing about the pandemic all day, every day, can be upsetting. Considering limiting the news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from screens for a while.

    We have other trip — tips for improving wellbeing while staying COVID-19 safe on our CDC website, which I invite you all to look at.

    Of course, do get vaccinated when the vaccine is available to you. Doing so opens up even more opportunities to connect safely in person with others in small gatherings.

    I continue to hear of so many uplifting stories about friends and families being able to reconnect after months or even a year apart once they are fully vaccinated. This is what we're all fighting for — meeting your new grandchild for the first time, hugging a friend, having dinner with another family. We will get there. We are getting there. We are getting there at roughly two and a half million vaccinations a day.

    And we're getting new evidence about the positive effects of these vaccines every single day. As I mentioned on Monday, we now see significant declines in emergency department visits among people over 65 as that age group has gotten vaccinated.

    Just yesterday, several studies were released from the New England Journal of Medicine describing substantial real-world protection against COVID-19 among vaccinated healthcare workers who we know are at increased risk of exposure to the virus.

    These findings should be a jolt of hope for all of us and to serve as a catalyst for everyone to roll up their sleeves when the vaccine is available.

    As I said many times before, getting schools open for in-person instruction safely and as quickly as possible is a top priority for CDC, and here again, we are starting to see results.

    I'm excited to report that we've heard from a number of school districts since our updated guidance was released last Friday that they're now able to move forward with broader reopening as a result of our updated recommendations on physical distancing.

    At the same time, we've been working hard with our Federal Retail Pharmacy Program to vaccinate K-through-12 teachers, staff, and childcare workers throughout the month of March. Our pharmacy partners now report they have vaccinated more than 1.3 million educators, staff, and childcare workers — about 566,000 of those were just in the last week.

    This is substantial progress towards our goal of getting our teachers and school staff vaccinated by the end of March. If you haven't already been vaccinated, visit CDC.gov to learn how to make an appointment through our Federal Pharmacy Program.

    Finally, I want to share how excited I am to be joining the President, Vice President, First Lady, and Secretary Cardona, along with many K-through-12 students, teachers, and staff at the Department of Education's National Safe School Reopening Summit this afternoon.

    During the summit, we will continue the important dialogue of school reopening and hear firsthand experience from school administrators, teachers, staff, and students about how they have been able to successfully get back to in-person learning.

    I look forward to learning from the participants and engaging with our educational partners in their critical work.

    Thank you. I'll now turn things over to Dr. Fauci.

    [ ... ]

    Read the full trancript HERE.



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