Story at a glance
- Travel, new variants and premature rollbacks of public health restrictions are all contributing factors to the uptick in new COVID-19 cases.
- Anthony Fauci told CBS that only with more vaccinations can public health measures be safely relaxed.
Public health officials have issued fresh warnings as the U.S. shows a 15 percent spike in new COVID-19 infections. The increasing case rates come as more people are getting vaccinated and also socializing together, most notably as spring break descends upon places like Miami.
One of the most visible COVID-19 experts, Anthony Fauci, warns against states prematurely revoking public health protocols like face masks and indoor gathering capacities, citing new virus variants and lax safety mandates as detrimental to the progress the U.S. has made against the virus.
The country’s current plateau of new infections likely signals a pivotal point in America’s struggle to contain the virus.
“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. And, unfortunately, that's what we're starting to see,” Fauci told CBS’s Margaret Brennan.
With the country averaging between 50,000 to 60,000 new confirmed infections daily, Fauci notes that avoiding travel is a key component to reducing the spread of the virus.
He further adds that social restrictions shouldn’t be pulled back until new COVID-19 infections hit record lows. The increase in vaccine distribution is helpful in cultivating herd immunity, which in turn can lead to gradually and safely loosening public health restrictions, Fauci says. But the country first needs to get to safe numbers.
“As we get a really, really low level of infection, you're going to start seeing a pulling back on some of those restrictions,” Fauci said, regarding following public health protocols until more Americans have been vaccinated and cases remain low. “I hope and I think that's going to happen. I think if we do it correctly and we get the vaccines out at the rate we're doing that will happen.”
Last week, President Biden announced that his administration had succeeded in vaccinating 100 million people before his 100th day in office. He has since raised the goal to 200 million within the same timeframe.