March 2 coronavirus news

By Jessie Yeung, Brett McKeehan, Rob Picheta, Kareem Khadder and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT) March 3, 2021
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1:51 a.m. ET, March 2, 2021

CDC director issues stark warning to Americans about Covid-19 variants

From CNN's Holly Yan and Christina Maxouris

Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater on December 8, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater on December 8, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The US risks losing its recent gains in the battle against Covid-19 as highly contagious variants take advantage of Americans getting lax with safety measures.

"Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After weeks of tumbling case numbers, new infections are on the rise again — about 2% more this past week compared to the previous week, Walensky said Monday.

"Similarly, the most recent seven-day average of deaths has also increased more than 2% ... to nearly 2,000 deaths per day," she added.

Walensky also called out states easing up on Covid-19 safety mandates.

"I am really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures we have recommended to protect people from Covid-19," she said.

"Please stay strong in your conviction. Continue wearing your well-fitting mask and taking the other public health prevention actions that we know work.

"Ultimately, vaccination is what will bring us out of this pandemic. To get there, we need to vaccinate many more people."