A while back, I found myself silently agreeing with someone’s post I’d just seen on Twitter about the US coronavirus response — a post about how very American it is for us to decide this whole COVID mess has gone on long enough, thank you very much, and we’re now just over it and going to start opening up states and local economies again.
This restlessness, which comes as we’ve arrived at the one-year anniversary of the pandemic in the US, is sort of what White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci sought to address In one of his latest coronavirus updates, specifically in reference to states like Texas and Mississippi now completely rolling back things like face mask mandates. At a time when the US is still seeing tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases every day — cases that can turn into hospitalizations, and potentially into new COVID deaths — states like these have just decided among themselves that they’re tired of this and going to do something about that.
Based on the number of new cases alone that we’re still seeing every day in the US, irrespective of how much improvement your own state or community may be experiencing at the moment at this point in the pandemic, Dr. Fauci says it’s still too soon to be dropping public safety measures like face mask mandates and letting businesses open back up at full capacity. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview with CNN in recent days. “But you’re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines — particularly when we’re dealing with anywhere from 55 (thousand) to 70,000 infections per day in the United States.”
In a town hall with @UFCW today, Fauci criticized Texas and Mississippi for ending mask mandates: “I think that was ill-advised. It is really quite risky to do that.” https://t.co/UeuVe1TI4E
— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) March 3, 2021
According to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University, more than 29 million coronavirus cases have now been identified in the US since the pandemic began. Additionally, more than 525,000 deaths in the US have been attributed to the virus. The nearly 117 million coronavirus cases reported globally have led to what World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday was a pandemic that’s caused more “mass trauma” than World War II.
If you’re wondering when health experts like Dr. Fauci think it will be appropriately, finally, to start rolling back coronavirus restrictions, there’s a number you should pay attention to:
According to Dr. Fauci, restrictions like face mask mandates should remain in effect until the average number of new daily coronavirus cases in the US drops below 10,000 per day. For a bit of historical context, the last time that occurred was way back one year ago this month, in March 2020.
Now, in terms of updated official guidance from public health experts about what vaccinated people can do safely, the CDC on Monday finally gave us the long-awaited unveiling of what the agency says people can do once they’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID. In line with Dr. Fauci’s comments, the guidance includes those people still wearing face masks when they’re in public and when interacting with non-vaccinated people in public, as well as avoiding large gatherings.
Among the things fully vaccinated people can now do safely, according to the CDC, is gather indoors with small groups of people without wearing masks.