Dr. Fauci Says COVID Restrictions Will Be "Much More Liberal" by This Date
The top infectious disease expert says life will return to being more normal in a matter of months.
Now one year into COVID-19 officially being declared a pandemic, the overall picture of progress in the U.S. is finally looking up. New case numbers have gone down, and the number of administered vaccinations has increased to nearly 70 million people having received at least one dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With this progress fueling the hopes that life can begin to go back to normal soon, we now have a more precise timeline as to when exactly. During a March 14 interview with CNN, Anthony Fauci, MD, said COVID restrictions would likely be greatly reduced by this summer date. Read on to see when the top infectious disease expert thinks guidelines will be relaxed, and for more on when he believes we can finally ditch our PPE, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said Exactly When We Won't Need Masks Anymore.
Fauci believes COVID restrictions could be "much more liberal" by the Fourth of July.
While appearing on CNN's State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Fauci to clarify the goal President Joe Biden set last week that Americans would be able to safely host backyard get-togethers for the summer's biggest holiday. He expressed confidence that current vaccination trends made such gatherings a more likely scenario.
"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 [CDC] are, but I can tell you for sure [guidelines] will be much more liberal than they are right now about what you can do," he said. And for more on what vaccinated people shouldn't do right now, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said to Avoid This One Place, Even If You're Vaccinated.
Fauci also warned that there's still work to be done before life can go back to normal.
The top infectious disease expert was also quick to point out that such changes were not a given. During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press on the same day, Fauci told host Chuck Todd that the recent drop in cases didn't necessarily mean that the pandemic could be put behind us just yet. He warned that we shouldn't "spike the ball on the five-yard line."
"Even though the decline was steep, we absolutely need to avoid the urge to say, 'Oh, everything is going great,'" he cautioned. "When you get a plateau at a level around 60,000 new infections per day, there's always the risk of another surge. And that's the thing we really want to avoid because we are going in the right direction." And for more on when another spike in cases could be possible, check out Dr. Fauci Says This Is the Sign That We'll Have Another COVID Surge.
Other parts of the world have seen surges return after their cases plateaued.
Fauci pointed out that with COVID cases in the U.S. hovering at the high levels they're currently at—around 50,000 to 60,000 new cases nationwide per day—some states' decision to remove mask mandates and capacity limits on activities such as indoor dining was dangerously preemptive. He used Italy as an example, which recently saw a jump in infections that led to another lockdown in the country that began on Monday, March 15.
"They had a diminution of cases. They plateaued and they pulled back on public health measures," he told 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." And for more COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Keeping up with vaccinations will help keep new variants in check.
When asked about dangerous new variants that have continued to emerge and spread worldwide, Fauci said he was confident that our current vaccinations were effective against new strains. He pointed out that those who have been immunized are much less likely to develop severe COVID or die from the disease overall.
"The best way that we can avoid any threat from variants is to do two things: Get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can, and to continue with the public health measures, until we get this broad umbrella of protection over society, that the level of infection is very low," Fauci said. And for more optimistic predictions, check out This Is When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say.