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US health officials expect COVID cases to continue rising

Virus Outbreak
Posted at 9:45 AM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 12:45:28-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. health officials warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could get worse in the coming weeks.

The White House COVID-19 Response Team said Wednesday that cases have been steadily climbing since mid-April.

Officials touted Paxlovid, a pill to treat COVID-19, as the reason death rates haven't risen at similar rates.

"What we have seen, I think, is a dramatic increase in the use of Paxlovid, about a four-fold increase just in the last month," said White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. "Our latest estimates are that 20,000 prescriptions of Paxlovid are being given out every single day.

CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky emphasized that the U.S. has the tools to avoid severe outbreaks that result in mass death.

She asked local leaders in areas of high transmission to encourage masking and increase "access to testing and treatment.”

"In areas where community levels are high, everyone should be using prevention measures and wearing a mask in public indoor settings," she said. "In areas with medium Covid-19 community levels, in yellow, individuals should consider taking prevention measures based on their own risk, like avoiding crowds, wearing a mask, increasing their testing, especially before gathering with others indoors."

Jha said 8.5 million households have ordered free COVID-19 test kits from the government this week.

The U.S. hit a grim milestone this week. More than 1 million people have died from COVID-related complications.