Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, made the rounds on Sunday morning shows and cautioned that the US isn’t out of the woods yet as it continues to see roughly 55,000 new cases each day – down from a peak of nearly 249,000 per day in mid-January.
‘Even though the decline was steep, we absolutely need to avoid the urge to say: “Everything is going great,”‘ Fauci told Meet the Press.
‘It is going in the right direction, but once you declare victory, the metaphor that people say: “If you are going for a touchdown, don’t spike the ball on the five-yard line.” When you plateau, there is always a risk of a surge. That’s what the Europeans experienced.’
It comes as cities and states around the country continue rolling back restrictions and Americans flock back to pre-pandemic activities like going to the movies, dining indoors and attending sporting events.
The ramped-up reopenings have been driven in part by an acceleration of the vaccine rollout, which saw a record 4.6 million people receive jabs on Saturday, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
In another interview with Fox News on Sunday, Fauci said he believes Joe Biden’s goal to return to normalcy by July 4 is ‘quite reasonable’.
‘Those are quite reasonable goals and expectations,’ he said.’If you look at the number of vaccines that are going into people now, I think that goal of anybody 18 years of age or older will be able to get a vaccine by May 1 … that’s quite reasonable.’
‘I think the only thing you have to be careful of is … that plateauing.’
Dr Anthony Fauci warned that the US could follow in Italy’s footsteps and see a second coronavirus lockdown if restrictions are lifted too fast as new cases plateau and deaths decline
The ramped-up reopenings have been driven in part by an acceleration of the vaccine rollout, which saw a record 4.6 million people receive jabs on Saturday, according to the CDC
In another interview with CNN, Fauci used Italy as an example of why the US shouldn’t reopen too quickly. Italy is preparing to enter its second major lockdown on Monday amid a dramatic spike in cases.
‘[Italy] had a diminution of cases. They plateaued and they pulled back on public health measures,’ Fauci told State of the Union anchor Jake Tapper. ‘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.’
‘That’s where we are right now. 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 his comments as college students have invaded Florida beaches in droves to party without masks, while the rest of the nation braces for St. Patrick’s Day festivities one year into the coronavirus pandemic.
‘We’re seeing too much spring break activity,’ Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told CNN on Saturday. ‘We’ve got a problem with too many people coming here, we’ve got a problem with too many people coming here to let loose.’
Meanwhile, the city of Savannah, Georgia prepared to host a massive St. Patrick’s Day festival with as many as 50,000 people, while the Chicago River was dyed green on Saturday as people in cities nationwide try to celebrate the Irish holiday amid the second year of COVID-19 restrictions.
Experts have said fears of a ‘fourth wave’ of the coronavirus hitting the United States may have been overblown as Florida continues to record falling coronavirus cases and deaths despite having more cases of the UK’s super-COVID variant than any other state.
College students have descended on Florida for spring break as Fort Lauderdale is packed with mask-less revelers on St Patrick’s Day weekend
COVID-19 is not stopping the crowds from coming to downtown Savannah to celebrate. Hundreds of revelers are celebrating at Plant Riverside District’s St Patrick’s Day festival
Nationwide, more than 29.4 million coronavirus cases and 534,600 deaths have been reported to date.
In the month since February 13, the seven-day moving average for new cases has fallen by 45 percent to 52,750 on Saturday, while the average for deaths has fallen by 57 percent to 1,408.
Those numbers are expected to continue to fall as more people are vaccinated. As of Sunday, nearly 106 million vaccine doses have been administered around the US at a current pace of about 2.5 million per day, according to CDC data.
About 20.7 percent of the population has received one dose of the vaccine, and 11.1 percent has received two.
In his Fox News interview on Sunday, Fauci said he wishes former President Donald Trump would use his popularity among Republicans to persuade more of his followers to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Fauci lamented polls that have shown Trump supporters are more likely to refuse to get vaccinated, saying politics needs to be separated from ‘commonsense, no-brainer’ public health measures.
He said it would be a ‘game changer’ for the country’s vaccine efforts if the former president used his ‘incredible influence’ among Republicans.
‘If he came out and said: “Go and get vaccinated. It’s really important for your health, the health of your family and the health of the country,” it seems absolutely inevitable that the vast majority of people who are his close followers would listen to him,’ Fauci said.
Trump has urged people to get vaccinated, doing so again two weeks ago at a conservative political gathering in Florida.
But he hasn’t been among former presidents and other public officials who have been vaccinated on camera to encourage others to get the shot.
It was revealed only recently that he was vaccinated in private at the White House before leaving office in January.
Trump did not appear in a new public service campaign for the COVID-19 vaccine that included former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama.
Polls have shown Republicans joining black people and other groups in expressing greater skepticism than others about the safety of the vaccine.
Fauci said he doesn’t understand the resistance.
‘What is the problem here? This is a vaccine that is going to be lifesaving for millions of people,’ he said on Meet the Press.
‘I mean, I just can’t comprehend what the reason for that is when you have a vaccine that’s 94-95 percent effective and it is very safe. I just don’t get it.’
New lockdown begins in Italy as hospitals struggle with new Covid spike while in France planes fly patients from overrun Paris facilities to other regions
Across the border in France, special medical planes dispatched patients from overrun Paris intensive care units to less saturated regions over the weekend.
Officials say the Paris region may join much of Italy in imposing a new lockdown as new variants of COVID-19 fill up hospitals and limited vaccine supplies drag down inoculation efforts.
‘If we have to lock down, we will do it,’ the head of the national health agency, Jerome Salomon, said on BFM television Sunday. ‘The situation is complex, tense and is worsening in the Paris region.’
Meanwhile, many Italians – including those living in Rome’s region Lazio – will be put under tougher restrictions from Monday.
It comes almost exactly a year after Italy became the world’s first country to enact a nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.
A majority of European countries are now seeing COVID-19 cases start to rise as new and more-infectious variant of the disease begin to spread.
With the continent’s vaccine drive in disarray and just seven per cent its population given at least one dose, leaders are being forced to turn once again to lockdowns to bring the virus under control.
Italy is set to begin its new lockdown on Monday as hospitals struggle with a spike in Covid-19 patients. Pictured: People sit outside at a restaurant on Sunday, the last day before new lockdown measures come into force
The number of COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed in France and Italy – with 23,326 and 26,062 cases respectively being reported on Saturday.
In contrast, in the UK, where the country is locked down and vaccine rollout has reached more than 23 million people, 5,534 people have tested positive for the disease.
As a result of the increasing number of cases, both France and Italy’s hospitals are struggling with an increase of ICU admissions for COVID-19.
Mr Salomon says France has more people in intensive care for COVID-19 and other ailments – about 6,300 – than the overall number of ICU beds it had going into the pandemic. In contrast, in the UK, hospitalizations have decreased.
The health official acknowledged that a nationwide 6pm curfew ‘wasn’t enough’ in some regions to prevent a spike in cases, notably of the variant first identified in Britain.
The new Italian government says it aims to have 80 percent of the population vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September.
Premier Mario Draghi’s office on Saturday announced more goals of the national vaccination program, which only recently has started picking up its pace after delays in vaccine deliveries and other logistics slowdowns.
Just under two million people in Italy – or roughly three percent of the population – had been fully vaccinated as of Saturday.
In contrast, yesterday the number of Britons who have received at least one vaccine dose rose to 23.684 million from 23.315 million the day before.
Italy began its coronavirus vaccination campaign in late December but as elsewhere in Europe, it has been dogged by delays in deliveries of the jabs.
Concerns over reported side effects of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine prompted the health regulator on Thursday to suspend a batch of the jabs, even while it warned there was no evidence of a link with blood clots.
It comes just days after Italy blocked a batch of the vaccines from going to Australia, saying they were needed to help speed up its own drive.
Italy and France are now seeing Covid cases start to rise as new and more-infectious variant of the disease begin to spread – while the UK’s number of cases drop due to lockdown restrictions and a fast vaccine rollout