Dr. Fauci Just Said One Word Every American Should Hear
"We're not out of the woods yet" is how the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention characterized the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday. "Cases are increasing right now—slightly, but they are," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky during a briefing by the White House COVID-19 response team. "The goal is not to open up travel because we're scaling up vaccination. The goal in those first 100 days has always been to make sure that we are in a place to be out of this pandemic. At 70,000 cases per day, we're not in that place right now."
"We all need to keep our eye on the fact that we're not out of the woods here yet," she added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease specialist, replied with one word every American should hear: "Amen." Read on to hear why both experts are warning you to be more careful than ever, despite cases recently going down—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
New Variants May End Decline in Cases, Fauci and Walensky Warn
A week ago, some commentators were celebrating the news that coronavirus cases had dropped nearly 80% from their peak in January. But then, as now, health officials like Walensky and Fauci sounded a note of caution, noting that the steep decline might not last in the face of new coronavirus variants that are spreading around the country. Some of these variants seem to be more easily transmissible and may make vaccines and monoclonal antibody therapy less effective.
In fact, the drop in new daily cases has plateaued, and cases have begun to tick up in recent days. On Feb. 21, the seven-day moving average was just under 64,000. On Feb. 28, a week later, it was just below 67,000.
It's a far cry from the pandemic's peak: 315,179 new cases on Jan. 8. But health officials worry about the potential for another big surge, at the same time that some states have begun rolling back restrictions and some Americans are becoming lax about protective public-health measures like mask-wearing and social distancing now that vaccines are rolling out.
Fauci has said that the key to stopping the pandemic is to continue with public-health measures and for as many people to be vaccinated as possible. According to the CDC, as of March 1, 25.4 million people have been fully vaccinated, about 7.7% of the total U.S. population. To reach herd immunity, the goal is 75% to 80%.
Dr. Fauci Has Said "Amen" to CDC Warnings Before
It wasn't the first time Fauci gave an "amen" to Dr. Walensky. On CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, host Dana Bash played Fauci a clip of Walensky saying: "Things are tenuous. Now is not the time to relax restrictions. We cannot get comfortable or give in to a false sense of security that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. I know people are tired. They want to get back to life to normal, but we're not there yet." Fauci was asked if the re-opening of cities is premature.
"Well, I mean, I amen to what Dr. Walensky said," answered Fauci, "because if you look at the curve, it's coming down sharply, but the last several days, it's kind of plateaued at around 70,000 new infections per day….It is really risky to say, 'It's over, we're on the way out. Let's pull back.' Because what we can see is that we turn up, it isn't hypothetical data because just look historically at the late winter, early spring of 2020 of the summer of 2020, when we started to pull back prematurely, we saw the rebounds."
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.