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CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Says Despite 'Impending Doom' Comment, There's 'So Much Reason For Hope'

BOSTON (CBS) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a visit to the Hynes Convention Center mass COVID vaccine site that while she spoke Monday about her feeling of "impending doom," there is also "so much reason for hope" on the horizon.

Walensky 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.

On Tuesday, she joined Baker, the FEMA administrator, and other political leaders for a tour of the Hynes, which is entering into a partnership with FEMA. The new arrangement has the federal government ramping up doses to 7,000 per day at the Hynes site alone.

According to CIC Health, which runs the site, there will be 4,000 doses administered daily on Wednesday and Thursday. That increases to 6,000 daily on Friday through Sunday. They will ramp up to 7,000 doses a day next week.

On Monday, Walensky said during a briefing with reporters that she has a "recurring feeling" of "impending doom" with COVID cases on the rise in many parts of the country.

"When I said I had a feeling of impending doom and it's sort of this feeling that I've had surge after surge, serving on the front lines at Massachusetts General Hospital and recognizing that right now it's preventable; we know that it's preventable," Walensky said. "We know what we need to do to stop the surge and we would ask everybody to go out and do that."

Walensky spoke to governors Tuesday morning and encouraged all of them to include mask mandates in their states. All New England states currently have mask mandates, but others such as Texas no longer do.

Walensky and Baker both urged residents to get the vaccine when eligible, and to continue wearing masks and social distancing.

She said what gives her hope is that 95 million Americans have been vaccinated with one dose of a COVID vaccine, and 53 million are fully vaccinated. In Massachusetts, one in five people is fully vaccinated.

"I'm really pleased to see that everybody here is masked, everybody outside is masked, and people are doing their part to try and contain the virus here in Massachusetts," Walensky said. "Massachusetts has a higher vaccination rate, one in five, than the national average and I'm really encouraged. I really ask people to serve in their community to make sure we're reaching those high risk communities and places like here at Hynes Convention Center, as well as the mobile units in Boston, Chelsea and Revere are going to do exactly that."

Governor Charlie Baker warned people about Easter and Passover.

"That people take seriously this notion that they really ought to spend their holidays with what I would describe as the people who are part of their most intimate circle," he said.

Visit Mass.Gov/CovidVaccine to find out when you're eligible and to book an appointment or call the hotline at 211.

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