Although cases of Covid-19 had been trending downward in the United States, experts are warning that we are now in a precarious place after cases nationwide ticked up this past week by 12 percent as 30 states plus D.C. reported a rise in infections.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, explained on Face the Nation, that often when cases decline and reach a plateau — like they have in the U.S. over the past month — there is a surge.
“Once you stay at that plateau, you’re really in danger of a surge coming up,” Fauci warned. “And unfortunately, that’s what we’re starting to see. We got stuck at around 50,000 new cases per day, which went up to 60,000 the other day. And that’s really a risk.”
So why are we seeing an increase after a period of decline? It’s a combination of factors. Yes, variants are playing a role, Fauci said, but it’s also a result of Americans traveling more and states and local governments easing public health measures.
“What we’re likely seeing is because of things like spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods that you’ve seen. Now, several states have done that. I believe it’s premature,” Fauci said.
Our one hope, other than continuing to follow commonsense measures like distancing and masking, is vaccines. The United States has been vaccinating people at an impressive pace, up to 3.5 million vaccinations each day now. If that continues, we may have more opportunities for gathering and socialization, with precautions, sometime in the summer.
“There are 50 million people in this country that are fully vaccinated. That’s a lot of people, and every day we get more and more,” Fauci said. “I would expect that as we get through the summer — late spring, early summer — there’s going to be a relaxation where you’re going to have more and more people who will be allowed into baseball parks, very likely separated with seating, very likely continuing to wear masks.”
Fauci made sure to emphasize that even as we vaccinate more people, masks will still be necessary, especially for children, who he says will likely not be vaccinated until early 2022. But we are not out of danger yet. As Fauci told a reporter at a White House briefing this week, “When I’m often asked, ‘Are we turning the corner?’ My response is really more like, ‘We’re at the corner.’ “