As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues and cases and hospitalizations are on the decline, Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that the U.S. may need to prepare for another “spike.”
During a White House press briefing on Friday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases revealed that while the plateau from the post-holiday surge is way down, it could mean that Americans need to take it more seriously than ever while bracing for another potential boom in infections.
“We’ve just now recently experienced the worst surge,” Fauci said. “The issue is that we are starting to plateau. That plateau is about 60,000 to 70,000 cases a day. When you have that much viral activity in a plateau, it almost invariably means that you are at risk of another spike,” he explained citing past coronavirus data.
“Many of us will recall very, very vividly — in the end of the winter and the beginning of the spring — we had a surge that was dominated by the New York metropolitan area. After the surge, what we came down to was a baseline of about 20,000 cases per day. That is a very high baseline, relatively speaking,” he said.
Fauci used the recent spike in cases across Europe as an example.
“Many countries in Europe have seen just that — over the past week, an increase in cases by 9 percent, something we desperately want to avoid,” he explained.
In another briefing, Fauci echoed his sentiments, stating: “If we plateau at 70,000, we are at that very precarious position that we were right before the fall surge, where anything that could perturb that could give us another surge.”
While he acknowledged that he doesn’t want people to be “looking at the dark side of things,” he does want them to be “realistic.”
According to Fauci, the next few weeks will be key to see if our progress has stalled or if the numbers continue to decrease.
With the U.S. is vaccinating on average about two million people per day, he explained that restrictions will eventually be pulled back, but for now, face masks, social distancing, and hand-washing remains just as crucial as ever
However, more than a dozen U.S. states have either lifted or are planning to lift the mask mandate including Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.
President Joe Biden slammed the decision earlier this week calling it “Neanderthal thinking.”
Fauci warned that “now is not the time to pull back on public health measures.”
“It is entirely understandable — I feel it myself: You want to get back to some form of normality; that will come relatively soon. … But the better we do with suppressing the virus, the quicker we’ll get back to normal. What we don’t want to do is to prematurely jump the gun and throw aside all public health measures,” he told WTOP News.
Per CNN, he recommended not easing restrictions until the number of coronavirus cases falls below “10,000” daily or “maybe even considerably less than that,” which hasn't happened since last March.
Per the New York Post, a total of 82 million people have been vaccinated thus far, which is more than any other country.