Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation to tell Americans one thing on Sunday morning: hold tight. The light is at the end of the tunnel, but cases are still high. Now is not the time to relax the public health safety and mitigation measures. Read on for Dr. Fauci’s full warning and to see how you can stay safe—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Warns Infections Are Now “Quite High”
The concern, says Fauci, is “based on the fact that although the cases are coming down very nicely, you have a very sharp diminution over the past week and a half or so. We've seen that that decline has now done this essentially starting to plateau. And historically, if you look back at the different surges we've had when they come down and then start to plateau at a very high level plateauing at a level of 60 to 70,000 new cases per day is not an acceptable level. That is really very high. And if you look at what happened in Europe a few weeks ago, they're usually a couple of weeks ahead of us in these patterns. They were coming down to then they plateaued and over the last week or so, they've had about a 9% increase in cases. So the message we're saying is that we do want to come back carefully and slowly about pulling back on mitigation methods, but don't turn it switch on and off because it really would be risky to have yet again, another surge, which we do not want to happen because we're plateauing at quite a high level, 60 to 70,000 new infections per day is quite hard.”
Dr. Fauci Says the New York Variant is Spreading “Quite Efficiently” and You Have to “Be Careful”
Of a new, more transmissible New York COVID-19 variant, Dr. Fauci says “it's not widespread yet, but it seems to be spreading pretty efficiently through the New York City metropolitan area. And beyond one of the things you have to be careful at it is that when you get a variant that has the capability of being rather vigorous in its, in its capability of spreading and fact, is that it alludes a bit, not as much as the South African isolate, but it loses a bit some of the protection from the antibodies from monoclonal antibodies, as well as the vaccine. The one thing you want to do is to make sure you do not allow that to continue to spread two ways to do that. Get people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible, and maintain the public health measures that we talk about. So often the masking, the physical distancing and the avoiding of congregate settings, particularly indoors. That's what you can do to prevent the spread of a worrisome variant.”
Dr. Fauci Says Every Day That We Keep a Lid on Things, the Pandemic Will Get Better
“One of the things that I think we should point out every day that goes by that we keep the lid on things will get better and better,” says Fauci, “because we're putting now at least 2 million vaccinations into the arms of individuals each day. And as the days and weeks go by, you have more and more protection, not only of individuals but of the community. So we're going in the right direction. We just need to hang in there a bit longer.”
Dr. Fauci Says We Won’t Have Restrictions Forever
“We will be pulling back on these mitigation methods,” says Fauci. “That's not going to be this way indefinitely for sure. We want to get those debt levels of virus very, very low. And then we will have much, much easier to have time to safely pull back and get the economy and all the other things that we want to be normal.”
Dr. Fauci Says We Can’t Rely on Seasonality to Stop COVID
Will the COVID situation get better as it gets warmer? “I don't think so, because we've been through this movie before where we felt we were going to get some relief in the summer,” said Dr. Fauci. “And if you go back and look at the patterns we've had surges in the middle of the summit, generally respiratory viruses do better in the sense of better for the community in the summer, but we can't rely on that. Now when we need to rely on is getting people vaccinated and continuing the public health measures with the gradual pulling back, we want to make sure people understand this is not going to be indefinite. We need to gradually pull back as we get more people vaccinated. And that is happening every single day, more and more people. And particularly as we get more doses, which are going to be dramatically increased as we get into April and May. And as the president has said, we will have at, by the end of may enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone—[everyone] will have to put a big push to get it into people's arms, but by that time we're going to be doing much, much better. We're going to have community vaccine centers, vaccine and pharmacies.”
How to Stay Safe During This Pandemic, Says Dr. Fauci
So follow Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.