Walensky argued that the downtrend in cases and other metrics should be seen in the context of where the country was during its recent crippling surge.
“It’s encouraging to see these trends coming down, but they’re coming down from an extraordinarily high place,” Walensky said.
She also warned that new, more contagious variants of the virus being detected in the U.S. meant the country could see another increase in cases and deaths.
“We can’t let our guard down,” Walensky said. “We have to continue wearing masks. We have to continue with our current mitigation measures. And we have to continue getting vaccinated as soon as that vaccine is available to us.”
Walensky’s comments come amid a push by the Biden administration to reopen schools. Her agency on Friday released updated reopening guidance which emphasized physical distancing and mask wearing. President Joe Biden in his first days in office issued an executive order mandating masks on federal property.
In a separate appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Walensky was probed on whether Americans would be able to safely meet without wearing masks by the end of 2021.
“I think that very much depends on how we behave right now,” she said.