Dr. Fauci Just Said When COVID Restrictions Will Really Be Gone
The infectious disease expert gave insight into the country's return to normalcy.
From being forced to wear masks while flying to having to show your vaccination card to enter certain establishments, we're all well aware of the ways our lives have changed over the last two years. Many of these requirements are almost second nature at this point in the COVID pandemic. But as we enter our third year with the coronavirus still circulating, some people have grown tired of the restrictions, especially now that case rates are now falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new infections in the U.S. are down more than 37 percent this week. As the Omicron variant releases its chokehold on the country, is there any chance for a return to normalcy soon? Read on to find out what White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, just said about when COVID restrictions will really be gone.
Dr. Fauci said he believes the pandemic phase in the U.S. is almost over.
In a new interview with the Financial Times on Feb. 8, Fauci discussed where the U.S. is in terms of ending the pandemic now that Omicron cases are falling. According to the infectious disease expert, the country is heading out of the "full blown" pandemic phase of COVID.
The infectious disease expert stopped shy of asserting that the virus has become endemic, the Financial Times reported. But Fauci did say that it could soon reach an "equilibrium" that will allow some of the ways we've been handling the COVID pandemic to change.
"There is no way we are going to eradicate this virus," he told the newspaper. "But I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the COVID restrictions will soon be a thing of the past."
It's likely that nationwide COVID restrictions will end soon.
As a result of the U.S. moving out of the pandemic phase, Fauci said it is likely that an end to COVID restrictions, like mask mandates, is on the horizon. The White House adviser said the he hopes that these regulations might end "soon," adding that it will probably happen sometime this year.
According to Fauci, the response to the virus will most likely start being overseen by local health departments instead of by the Biden administration. With that in mind, even if nationwide restrictions get lifted, local health departments could reintroduce measures on a temporary basis if outbreaks are detected in specific communities.
"These decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated," Fauci explained. "There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus."
Some local officials have already started lifting restrictions.
While we're not yet at the point where nationwide COVID restrictions are being withdrawn, local officials have recently started pulling back their own mitigation measures. On Feb. 7, New Jersey Governor Philip D. Murphy announced that the state would no longer require students and school employees to wear masks, creating a snowball effect where other states like California, Connecticut, Delaware, and Oregon are now making moves to lift mask mandates, per The New York Times.
New York—which has had some of the strictest measures to stop the spread of COVID—is also dropping its indoor mask mandate, Governor Kathy Hochul said on Feb. 9. And some officials are even considering removing vaccine mandates. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu laid out benchmarks on Feb. 8 for when the city might lift its proof-of-vaccine requirements, given that hospitalizations and case numbers continue to fall, according to The New York Times.
Fauci also discussed the future of boosters.
As the country looks toward the end of the COVID pandemic, Fauci said that his agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), is currently preparing for future pandemics and discussing how vaccines might just be one necessary measure for outbreaks down the line. In terms of COVID vaccines, the infectious disease expert went back on some of his earlier predictions, saying he no longer believes everyone in the U.S. will need regular boosters each year to keep the coronavirus at bay.
"It will depend on who you are," he told the Financial Times. "But if you are a normal, healthy 30-year-old person with no underlying conditions, you might need a booster only every four or five years."