Fauci: We risk another COVID-19 surge if we declare victory now
Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, warned on Tuesday that the U.S. risks a new COVID-19 surge if it declares victory over the pandemic now.
Fauci told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the current coronavirus statistics are “still at a level that are really quite risky” as the number of new cases per day has plateaued at between 45,000 and 60,000.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the sharp decrease from the winter’s “extraordinarily high” case numbers per day is “really good news.”
“That’s much better than the few hundred thousand per day, but it’s still at an unacceptably high level,” Fauci said.
“We’ve really got to be careful that we don’t claim victory and pull back on all the public health measures that we know work in keeping the lid on these surging of infections,” he said.
Fauci urged continued vigilance on social distancing and wearing masks while calling the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout “very good news.” The Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use authorizations for three vaccines, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
“Keeping that up, we are going in the right direction,” he said. “But if all of a sudden we declare victory, we can risk a surge.”
Fauci said a similar situation of plateauing numbers has unfolded in Europe, where countries loosened coronavirus restrictions “and all of a sudden it started to surge again.”
“We want to make sure that does not happen here in the United States,” he said.
Multiple states have moved to lift their coronavirus restrictions this year, including limits on businesses and social gatherings, even as more contagious variants of the disease spread.
The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases has leveled since mid-February and remained between 52,000 and 70,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. has administered more than 109 million doses of the three vaccines since the Pfizer-BioNTech shot was accepted in December, with 11.5 percent of the population fully vaccinated, according to government data.
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