By Staff

WASHINGTON (CBS) — The director of the Centers For Disease Control made an emotional plea to Americans on Monday to not let their guard down about the coronavirus, especially as cases tick up. Dr. Rochelle Walensky said hospitalizations and deaths in the country are on the rise, even as millions of Americans get vaccinated.

“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” Walensky said during a briefing. “We have so much to look forward to. So much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope. But right now I’m scared.”

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Walensky, who took over at the CDC in January, is the former chief of the division of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and a one-time member of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening advisory board.

“When I first started at the CDC about two months ago I made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth, even if it was not the news you wanted to hear,” she said. “Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth and I have to hope and trust you will listen.”

Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci have both warned elected officials about reopening too quickly this spring. Massachusetts entered Phase 4, Step 1 last week.

COVID cases in the state have been rising in recent weeks; it’s now estimated that there are at least 30,000 active cases in Massachusetts. The city of Boston on Monday urged residents to stay vigilant and wear a mask in public, as the rate of positive cases has increased 6% since March 4.

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On “Face The Nation” Sunday, Fauci warned against a potential new surge in coronavirus cases.

“When you’re coming down from a big peak and you reach a point and start to plateau, once you stay at that plateau, you’re really in danger of a surge coming up,” Fauci said. “And unfortunately, that’s what we’re starting to see.”

Walensky said the trajectory in the United States looks to be similar to many European countries that have seen a spike in cases.

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“I so badly want to be done. I know you all so badly want to be done,” Walensky said. “I’m asking you to just hold on a little longer.” Staff