Dr. Fauci Warns We're At Risk of Another Spike
New COVID-19 infections have declined significantly from their early-January peak. But the country is in danger of experiencing another surge, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and chief medical adviser to President Biden. Newly reported cases have dropped from a high of 314,172 on Jan. 8 to 67,484 on March 5. But after declining rapidly for several weeks, the seven-day moving average of daily cases has hovered between 68,000 and 60,000 since Feb. 19. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Warns We're "At Risk for Another Spike"
"We are starting to plateau," said Fauci during a briefing by the White House COVID response team on Thursday. "That plateau is about 60 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 for another spike."
He added: "Many countries in Europe have seen just that. They had a decrease in cases over a six-week period. They plateaued. And now over the past week, they saw an increase in cases by 9%, something we desperately want to avoid."
Virus Variants Rise as States Open Up
In the U.S., new variants which have begun spreading—from the U.K., South Africa, Brazil and two recently discovered in New York and California—seem to be more contagious and somewhat less responsive to vaccines. At the same time, several states have begun to ease or completely eliminate restrictions like mask mandates and venue closures. That threatens to touch off transmission hotspots and push the country's caseload upward.
One solution may be to produce booster shots specifically targeted to the variants. But right now, vaccinating as many people as possible will prevent the virus from mutating further, said Fauci.
"Importantly, there's another tool in our armamentarium," he added. "Namely adherence to the public health measures in an arena of a high baseline of infections with masks, distance, avoiding congregate settings, washing hands."
Vaccinations have increased in recent weeks: An average of 1.9 million shots are being administered daily; that rate exceeded 2 million for the first time last week. According to the CDC, as of March 6, 29.7 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID, about 9% of the total U.S. population.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: 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 get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.