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Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool via Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Monday she's concerned the U.S. could experience "another avoidable surge" in coronavirus infections due to new variants, if people don't follow mitigation measures like mask-wearing and social distancing.

Why it matters: A growing number of states have moved to reopen despite the spread of new variants. States are increasingly attributing their coronavirus cases to variants, Walensky noted.

  • B.1427 and B.1429 are estimated to comprise 52% of cases in California, 41% in Nevada and 25% in Arizona, according to Walensky.
  • The B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., is estimated to account for 9% of cases in New Jersey and 8% in Florida.

What she's saying: "We must act now, and I am worried that if we don't take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge — just as we are seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccination," Walensky said.

  • "We are looking at these data, we're reaching out to individual states, trying to encourage them," Walensky added.
  • "We are having weekly governors' calls. We're doing outreach with states, territories to encourage them to look at their case data, to look at what's happening with the variants and to do as much outreach as we can to try and slow down the relaxation."

The big picture: One in six U.S. adults has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

  • The U.S. has seen a steady downward trend in the number of daily cases since January, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Go deeper

Jun 11, 2021 - Health

G7 commits to sending 1 billion COVID vaccine doses to lower-income countries

Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

The Group of 7 wealthy nations on Friday pledged to deliver more than 1 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine to lower-income countries beginning this summer.

Why it matters: The G7 countries have been criticized for not sharing vaccines with nations that have fewer resources and are struggling to contain new waves of the pandemic.

Jun 11, 2021 - Health

FDA clears 10 million J&J vaccine doses from contaminated Baltimore plant

Emergent BioSolutions ruined 15 million of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses back in March. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it's allowing for the release of two batches of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine made at the Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore, where 100 million doses had been set aside for review after an accidental contamination.

Why it matters: The two authorized batches amount to approximately 10 million doses of J&J's single-shot vaccine, according to AP. The doses could end up being used in the U.S. or exported to other countries.

Jun 10, 2021 - Health

Doctors see a delayed seasonal surge of RSV in children

Data: CDC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Children's hospitals and pediatricians across the country are bracing for pediatric emergency visits after seeing an unseasonably high spike in cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Why it matters: A year of masking and social distancing due to COVID led to an absence of other respiratory illnesses like RSV, which has no vaccine and can be dangerous in young children and the elderly. But that break appears to be over.