Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned of complacency in the battle against COVID-19 as he expressed concern over the “disturbingly high” level of daily new infections in the United States.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and top medical adviser of President Joe Biden, pointed out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday that deaths and hospitalizations from the coronavirus are falling.
“But the number that is disturbing, Anderson, is the number of cases each day,” he said. “When we had the big spike that we’ve discussed so many times that went way up to two to three or more hundred thousand cases per day, then it came back down. But now it’s plateaued at a disturbingly high level.”
The daily new infection rate is currently around 60,000.
“When you’re at that level, there is the risk of getting a surge back up,” Fauci warned. “So, the way we’re looking at it now, it’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this surge that seems to want to increase and do what’s going on, for example, in Europe where they’re having some surges now that are really quite alarming.”
Between 3 million and 4 million people are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. each day, Fauci noted, and more than a third of the population has received at least the first dose.
“So, if we could just, as I’ve said so many times, hang in there a bit longer to get each day more and more people by the millions getting vaccinated to the point where we’ll have enough people vaccinated that the risk of that surge will diminish greatly,” said Fauci.
The country needs to keep dishing out vaccines while “not pulling back on public health measures,” he added. “Now is not the time, as I’ve said so many times, to declare victory prematurely. We still have a considerable risk there that we need to get by.”
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