Walensky hopeful COVID-19 vaccine rate will make dent in virus transmission over Memorial Day weekend

Vaccinated people are protected from COVID-19 and can enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, CDC's Dr. Rochelle Walensky said

As the U.S. approached holidays over the last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans to avoid travel and gatherings with nonhousehold members to prevent potential coronavirus spread. Now, the messaging from the agency has shifted with half of U.S. adults fully vaccinated. 

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky voiced optimism that the proportion of the country’s fully vaccinated population will help reduce the occurrence of new infections. 

"We have seen after holiday weekends in the past that cases have risen but we’ve never been in a position where we’ve had almost half the adults of America vaccinated and protected from this virus," Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.

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"Our guidance is very clear, if you are vaccinated you are protected, and if you are unvaccinated in the context of Memorial Day weekend we are really encouraging you to adhere to our guidance for people who are unvaccinated and of course to get vaccinated," she said.

Earlier in the briefing, Walensky said vaccinated people are protected and can enjoy the holiday, whereas unvaccinated people remain at risk of infection, and should mask up, among other precautions. 

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Across the country, daily confirmed cases are declining to lows not seen since June 2020, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Walensky said COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline as more Americans become vaccinated. Federal health data indicates the seven-day average of cases is about 23,000 cases per day. The figures show that the U.S. has held a seven-day average below 30,000 cases for just over a week.