So far, the CDC has reported more than 8,300 cases of the variant in the U.S. - and the agency has previously said the number only represents cases that have been found with the help of genetic sequencing. "I so badly want to be done, I know you all so badly want to be done, we are just nearly there but not quite yet", she said.
Walensky on Monday explained that the trajectory of the virus in the country looks similar to the way it has progressed in other European countries like Germany, Italy, and France, which have generally trended ahead of the USA in COVID-19 metrics.
A top USA health official made an emotional plea for people to "hold on a little longer" with measures to stop the coronavirus, admitting she felt a sense of "impending doom" as data showed the country tipping into another wave. And the number of infections among people under 60 years old is also increasing - especially in teenagers and people in their 20s, officials said. "It will be a race between the vaccine and what's going on with the dynamics of the outbreak, and we can win this by just hanging in there a bit longer".
"Hang in there", said infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci about maintaining protective measures.
"We are vaccinating the country as quickly as humanly possible", Slavitt said, noting that the USA has averaged 2.7 million vaccinations a day over the last week. "I, too, want to be done with this", Walensky said. "When we see that uptick in cases what we've seen before is that things really have a tendency to surge and surge big".
"We have come such a long way. So I'm speaking today not necessarily as your CDC director or not only as your CDC director, but as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, to ask you to just please hold on for a little while longer", she said.
Biden said 75 percent of those Americans over 65 have received at least one shot. And more than 50 million Americans - almost one in five adults - are fully vaccinated.
Housing advocates had urged the Biden administration to extend the moratorium, which was poised to expire on March 31, warning that millions of Americans who are still reeling financially from the coronavirus pandemic could be evicted.
The White House announced two new federally-run mass vaccination sites in communities identified as high risk: one in St. Louis and the other in Gary, Ind. However, Fauci warned, "if we open up completely now, that is premature given the level of infection".
Biden worked hard to try to instill the same kind of fear of the virus as there was so many months ago, and to encourage people to get vaccinated. "In point of fact, it would discourage people, to feel like that was the role we're playing".
Instead, the plan is what Slavitt calls "the best of all worlds:" the government putting forth guidelines, but not itself being the keeper of vaccination data.