Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned against relaxing safety protocols for the COVID-19 omicron variant during a press briefing Wednesday, saying "milder does not mean mild."
"Although it's encouraging that omicron appears to be causing less severe disease, it's important to remember that we are still facing a high overall burden of disease," Walensky said. "Hospitalizations have rapidly increased in a short amount of time, putting a strain on many local health systems."
"Importantly, milder does not mean mild, and we cannot look past the strain on our health systems and substantial number of deaths — nearly, 2,200 a day — as a result of the extremely transmissible omicron variant," she added.
At the same briefing, the CDC director admitted although cases have risen rapidly, hospitalizations and deaths have taken a steep decline.
"Strikingly, when we compare the past month when omicron was the predominant variant, we see a clear separation between cases, hospital admissions, and deaths," Walensky said.
"And while cases have dramatically increased and are five times higher than they were during the delta wave, hospitalizations have not increased at the same rate, and deaths remain low in comparison to the case counts."
COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped by 7.7% from the previous seven days, The Hill reported, citing CDC data.
Walensky has come under fire from public health experts and even Democrats recently after making several statements that had to be walked back on behalf of the agency, The Boston Globe reported.
"She's an esteemed scientist, but leading a federal agency and making policy decisions is very different," Anne N. Sosin, a public health researcher at Dartmouth College, said.
"This is an unprecedented crisis, and she doesn't bring the experience of someone who's led a federal agency and engaged in formulating policy at the federal level."
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., told Fox News on Jan. 17, he supported replacing Rochelle Walensky with Dr. Ashish Jha as director of the CDC after tweeting about the matter, Mediaite reported.
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