COVID Cases Spiking Again, But No Lockdown Plans in US, White House Says

By Susan Jones | November 23, 2021 | 5:17am EST
Jeff Zients, the White House's COVID response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speak for the Biden administration on the continuing pandemic, along with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeff Zients, the White House's COVID response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speak for the Biden administration on the continuing pandemic, along with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - COVID cases are spiking again in the United States amid colder weather up north, holiday travel, and people from different households gathering to celebrate Thanksgiving.

But asked about the possibility of lockdowns, such as the ones generating protest in Europe, the Biden White House said on Monday, "We are not headed in that direction."

A reporter asked White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients: "We’re seeing in Europe some lockdowns, like in Austria, some partial lockdowns in Netherlands, and there’s protests.  Can you talk about the U.S.?  Are we headed in that direction whatsoever, or is the focus purely on pharmaceutical interventions moving forward?"

Zients replied:

Yeah, so, no, we — we are not headed in that direction.  We have the tools to accelerate the path out of this pandemic -- widely available vaccinations; booster shots; kids’ shots; therapeutics, including monoclonal antibodies to help those who contract the virus.

We can curb the spread of the virus without having to in any way shut down our economy.  So that — you know, we have 82 percent of people now with one shot, and more and more people getting vaccinated each week.

Obviously, the decisions how to manage the virus are done at the local level, informed by community transmission, vaccination rate, and local capacity.  So, we need to use the tools we have and get more people vaccinated to keep people safe without going backwards in any way, shape, or form. This is under our control.

As for Thanksgiving, President Biden's COVID team says go ahead and gather, but do it "safely."

"First of all, we are really enthusiastic for people to be able to gather again for this holiday season, and we would just encourage that people do so safely," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told a news conference on Monday.

"So, of course, that means to get vaccinated if you’re not yet vaccinated and, ideally, to practice safe prevention measures before heading into gathering numerous households together. But ...one extra layer of protection that you might take is to take a rapid test before you gather together."

Walensky said the current seven-day daily average of COVID cases in this country is about 92,800 per day, up 18 percent from last week’s seven-day daily case average. The seven-day average of hospital admissions is about 5,600 per day, up 6 percent; and the seven-day average daily deaths are about 1,000 per day.

"Infections among the unvaccinated continue to drive this pandemic, hospitalizations, and deaths — tragically, at a time when we have vaccines that can provide incredible protection," Walensky said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci used his time at the news conference to discuss waning immunity to COVID and the case for booster shots.  A reporter asked him how long the booster doses will be required: "In other words, will we be looking out at a fourth shot or shots every six months or every year?" the reporter asked.

"Te honest answer is that we do not know at this point, but we are collecting data that hopefully will inform us about that," Fauci said:

Let me explain.  What we are hoping for — and as an immunologist and infectious disease person — that the interval between the dose of the second dose of an mRNA and the booster, six months or longer, will give the immune response to COVID-19 the chance to mature and to strengthen.

It’s referred to immunologically as “affinity maturation,” which means the B cells that will be making the antibodies have the opportunity to gain greater strength and hopefully greater durability.

So, I would hope, and I think there’s a reasonable chance, that the durability of protection following the third dose will be longer than the durability of protection that I just showed in one of my slides, where it waned after several months.  If that’s the case, then we may not need to get boosted every six months or so.  But if it does wane, which I hope it doesn’t, then we will address it.

In any case, we will find out that data, we will make it public, and we will act accordingly.

MRC Store