Ever since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the question on most of our minds is: When will end? Many infectious disease experts believe that like similar viruses—including measles—COVID-19 will never fully be eradicated. Instead, we need to focus on getting control of it, minimizing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. How will we know that we have effectively beaten COVID? During a Healthline Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert and key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, gave an explicit answer to the question, and mentioned which positivity rates indicated danger. Read on, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.
On States with High Positivity Rates
During previous interviews Dr. Fauci has made it clear that eradicating the virus isn't a likely reality. However, he explained to the panel when the percent positivity rate goes "way, way down," that will signify a win. How far down is enough to start celebrating? "I mean, you look at New York City right now. It's less than 1%. That's what you want the whole country to be," he stated. Unfortunately, many states are far away from that target number. "There are parts of the country where it's 15, 18, 20%"—in Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, and Texas—"that's really high," he pointed out. "You gotta get that percent positivity so the percent of your tests that you do that are actually positive, it's gotta be a very low number."
On Whether the Coronavirus Vaccine Will Ever Be Mandated
When a vaccine becomes available, Dr. Fauci doesn't believe that anyone will be forced to get it. "I don't think you'll ever see a mandating of vaccines, particularly for the general public," he stated. The only exception could be in healthcare. "Sometimes in the health sector, like in my hospital here at NIH, you're not going to be allowed to go on the ward unless you get a flu vaccine," he added. "But you would never mandate—at least I do not think you would. I'd be pretty surprised if you mandated it for any element of the general public."
On Whether the United States Is Still Communicating with the WHO
President Donald Trump may have denounced the World Health Organization, but the United States has not fully severed their relationship with them. "I'm on a—and my colleagues from the CDC—are on a weekly call that is sponsored and put on by WHO in which essentially the health authorities and scientists from every country in the world that's gets involved with COVID-19, which is about every country in the world, talking about their experiences, sharing information," he revealed. "We have scientific collaborations with our colleagues in Europe, European Union, Australia, Canada, Mexico. We have clinical trial networks in South Africa, in Brazil, in Chile and Peru. So there's an awful lot of international activity going on," he continued. "You don't hear about that very much in the press, but it really is going on rather intensively."
On Why Closing Schools Isn't a One-Size-Fits-All Situation
Despite the fact that outbreaks have been reported in schools that have reopened across the country, Dr. Fauci maintains that there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether schooling should be all virtual. "The bottom line is that we live in a big country and we can't take a uni-dimensional approach," he said, explaining that whether or not schools should open for in-person learning should be dependent on the level of infection in the specific region. "We've got to realize there's gotta be flexibility about where you are and how prepared you are to respond, to make a statement on one side versus the other, taking the country as a whole won't work."
On How to Avoid COVID-19
Until a vaccine is widely available, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.