More than 107 million Americans received at least one vaccine dose as of Sunday. The number of daily inoculations is on the rise as more supply is available, with the country administering an average of more than 2.3 million shots a day as of Friday. But the number of new COVID-19 cases has now plateaued at between 50,000 and 70,000 cases a day after weeks of consistent drops, which signals that the virus is still spreading with ease. US health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky have warned in recent weeks against lifting mask mandates and easing restrictions, as COVID-19 community transmission remains far too high.
In a series of interviews, Fauci explained how the US might be able to reach a degree of normality by July 4th. It hinges on two major factors, including reducing new daily cases and increasing the number of vaccinated people.
Fauci told CNN that the COVID-19 guidelines “will be much more liberal” by the Fourth of July if these two conditions are met. The CDC has just updated face mask guidelines for vaccinated people, with Fauci saying that more changes will follow.
“If by the time we get to the Fourth of July, with the rollout of the vaccine, we get the level of infection so low — I’m not going to be able to tell you exactly what the specific guidelines of the (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are, but I can tell you for sure (guidelines) will be much more liberal than they are right now about what you can do,” the health expert told Jake Tapper.
Fauci explained that the US plans to ramp up vaccinations and make the drugs available to every American who wants to be immunized as soon as possible. He explained that places like community centers and pharmacies will be turned into vaccination sites. Mobile vaccination units will visit some areas to increase vaccine supply. The military, retired physicians, nurses, and health care providers will all be involved in those campaigns. Dr. Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, also said that the US will be able to secure enough doses thanks to new contracts with the pharmaceutical companies.
If all these things are accomplished, “we will reach a certain degree of normality” by July 4th, Fauci said.
Fauci also continued to warn that relaxing health measures too soon could compromise the progress. He compared the situation to Italy, which is experiencing another surge that forced the government to announce a new lockdown.
“They had a diminution of cases. They plateaued, and they pulled back on public health measures,” he said. “They’ve opened restaurants. They’ve opened some of the bars. The younger people particularly stopped wearing masks. All of a sudden, you have a surge that went right back up.”
He continued, “That’s where we are right now. We can avoid that, Jake. We can avoid that if we continue to vaccinate people, get more and more protection without all of a sudden pulling back on public health measures.”
Fauci made similar remarks to Fox News on Sunday, supporting President Biden’s projections about vaccine availability, and warning about the current risks.
“When you pull back on things like masking and not paying attention to congregate settings, it is very risky to get another surge,” he said. “If you wait just a bit longer to give the vaccine program a chance to increase protection in the community, then it makes going back much less risky. But if you do it prematurely, there really is a danger of triggering another surge.”