FORT WORTH, Texas — Monday will mark one year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first COVID-19 death in the United States.
Now, the country is averaging just over 2,000 deaths a day, a major improvement from recent weeks when the national average was around 3,300 per day.
“Now is not the time to relax restrictions,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday.
While the CDC and federal officials are urging caution, some states, including Texas, could soon be getting rid of pandemic rollbacks.
“We're working right now on evaluating when we're going to be able to remove all statewide orders,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “We will be making announcements on that pretty soon."
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Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said Friday if Abbott removes the mask mandate, he’d endorse removing the county mask order, too.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he wouldn’t remove Dallas County’s order yet.
“I would listen to the doctors here locally and nationally and right now what they’re saying is we need to keep wearing our mask,” Jenkins said.
While trends are improving, there are 1,748 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Texas, which is more than double the September low of 671 before the recent spike. The current level is also higher than the 1,534 hospitalized when Gov. Abbott put the mask mandate in place in early July.
Now, declines are starting to plateau according to federal officials and UT Southwestern models.
“The latest data suggest that these declines may be stalling, potentially leveling off at still a very high number,” Walensky said. “We at CDC consider this a very concerning shift in the trajectory.”
Health officials say while vaccinations are increasing, so is the spread of more contagious variants across the country.
“We cannot get comfortable or give in to a false sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us,” Walensky said.
After fighting for a year to control the virus, the next couple of months could decide how quickly life returns to normal.
“Don’t lose your resolve. We are turning the battle against COVID. We’re in a position where we can win it, this year,” Jenkins said.