CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Alarmed by Escalating Rates of Travel in U.S.

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The Biden administration is pleading with Americans to follow public health guidance on mask-wearing and refraining from nonessential travel as the coronavirus continues to infect more than 50,000 Americans each day.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says she is alarmed by escalating rates of travel, including around college spring break.

Walensky pointed to the Transportation Security Administration reporting the heaviest travel date on Friday since the pandemic began, as well as images of maskless partygoers in beach towns as risks for another spike in virus cases.

Walensky notes cases of the virus have been on a slight decline over the last several weeks, but remain at elevated levels.

Walensky’s comments came during the White House coronavirus task force press conference Monday where they also announced the Biden Administration will significantly boost what it pays for COVID-19 shots to help get more Americans vaccinated, particularly those in hard-to-reach areas.

White House coronavirus special adviser Andy Slavitt said Medicare will now pay $40 per shot, an increase of nearly 75% over the $23 the program has been paying. For a vaccine requiring two shots, Medicare will pay $80.

The vaccine will continue to be free to patients, Slavitt said.

But the payment increase will make it easier for more health care providers to get out into communities and give shots to those most in need.

Also Dr. Walensky addressed a new study on whether children could be seated closer together in schools than previously recommended.

The CDC director says the agency is assessing new research that suggested with everyone wearing face masks, schools would see the same rate of infection with 3 feet of distance between students as with the currently recommended 6 feet.

Walensky says the 6 foot guidance was “among the biggest challenges that we were aware of” for schools to safely reopen.

The CDC was also anticipating other studies on the subject soon, she said, adding, “We are looking at these data carefully.

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