The American Medical Association says that COVID-19 poses a "grave danger to the public" that has "wreaked havoc in communities across the country," killing more than 755,000 Americans, hospitalizing 3.25 million people, and infecting more than 46 million.
NEW YORK, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- As COVID-19 cases rise nationwide in the United States, health experts are once again urging Americans to get vaccinated or boosted before traveling and gathering with their families for this Thanksgiving week, and not to drop masks before the pandemic is actually contained. The warning came as the seven-day average of new coronavirus infections tops 92,000, a nearly 30 percent increase in just two weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hospitalization rates are also starting to climb, raising concerns about a potential new wave of infections during the holiday season.
"We've got to be careful," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the U.S. president, told "CBS Mornings" on Monday.
"As you go into the colder weather, as you go into a season where people travel, where people congregate, and you have a (COVID-19 variant) as transmissible as Delta, you have an issue if you're not vaccinated," he said.
Also on Monday, the top doctor warned about "prematurely" dropping mask mandates as Washington, D.C. lifted its requirement for indoor masking despite opposition from the city's council members.
The city's move "adds an extra degree of risk," he said. "Masks are not going to be forever for sure. The more people that get vaccinated, the more people that get boosted, the lower the level of infection in the community will be, and then you start thinking about pulling back on masks."
LOCKDOWNS AND CASES
The United States is not headed for lockdowns like the ones facing European countries, even though coronavirus cases are rising with the arrival of winter, Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters on Monday. "We are not headed in that direction," he said.
"The (Joe) Biden administration has sought to avoid imposing lockdowns and has instead relied on the increased distribution of vaccine shots to curb the coronavirus," reported The Washington Post. Even when the spread of the Delta variant this summer was driving up new cases, the White House stressed their goal of avoiding lockdowns.
Zients repeated that stance on Monday, pointing to the increasing number of Americans getting vaccinated. "We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic: widely available vaccinations, booster shots, kids' shots, therapeutics," he said.
As one of the points the coordinator emphasized, coronavirus cases in children in the United States have risen by 32 percent from about two weeks ago, a spike that comes as the country rushes to inoculate children ahead of the winter holiday season, The New York Times on Tuesday quoted pediatricians as saying.
More than 140,000 children tested positive for the coronavirus between Nov. 11 and Nov. 18, up from 107,000 in the week ending Nov. 4, according to a statement on Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.
These cases accounted for about a quarter of the country's caseload for the week, the statement said. Children under 18 make up about 22 percent of the U.S. population. "What's driving the increase in kids is there is an increase in cases overall," said Sean O'Leary, the vice chair of the academy's infectious diseases committee.
CONS AND PROS
Republican lawmakers across the country look determined to take on the Biden administration's insistence that employers require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, reported National Public Radio (NPR) on Monday.
The Kansas legislature met in special session starting on Monday to engage in battle with the federal government over the vaccine mandates. Conservative lawmakers in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wyoming and North Dakota have already completed special sessions and passed bills aimed at nullifying new federal mandates.
Last week, over a federal appeals court's temporary blockade, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paused enforcement of its own temporary emergency standard requiring companies with 100 employees or more to mandate that workers either get vaccinated or submit to regular testing by Jan. 4, 2022.
However, the largest group of doctors in the United States has warned the federal appeals court that halting the federal government's vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses would "severely and irreparably harm the public interest" as the highly transmissible Delta strain of COVID-19 spreads.
The American Medical Association (AMA), in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, said that COVID-19 poses a "grave danger to the public" that has "wreaked havoc in communities across the country," killing more than 755,000 Americans, hospitalizing 3.25 million people, and infecting more than 46 million.
The AMA, arguing in support of Biden's policy, told the court that transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace has played a major role in spreading the virus, pointing to outbreaks in industries ranging from meat-processing and transportation to hospitality and construction.