National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that current coronavirus levels of 60,000 to 70,000 new cases per day were unacceptable.
Therefore, he argued for pulling back masking and the physical distancing “carefully and slowly.”
Partial transcript as follows:
BRENNAN: You recently warned that the country could be at risk for another infection spike. Are you worried about a fourth wave of this epidemic?
DR. FAUCI: Well, my concern, Margaret, is based on the fact that although the cases are coming down very nicely, you have a very sharp diminution, over the past week and a half or so, we’ve seen that that decline has now done this, essentially starting to plateau. And historically, if you look back at the different surges we’ve had, when they come down and then start to plateau at a very high level, plateauing at a level of 60 to 70,000 new cases per day is not an acceptable level. That is really very high. And if you look at what happened in Europe a few weeks ago, they’re usually a couple of weeks ahead of us in these patterns, they were coming down too, then they plateaued. And over the last week or so, they’ve had about a 9% increase in cases. So the message we’re saying is that we do want to come back carefully and slowly about pulling back on mitigation methods. But don’t turn that switch on and off because it really would be risky to have yet again another surge, which we do not want to happen because we’re plateauing at a- quite a high level. Sixty to 70,000 new infections per day is quite high.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you’ve been watching carefully this new New York strain that has shown some resistance to antibody treatments and vaccine. How widespread is it?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it’s not widespread yet, but it seems to be spreading pretty efficiently through the New York City metropolitan area and beyond. One of the things you have to be careful about is that when you get a variant that has the capability of being rather vigorous in its- in its capability of spreading, and the fact is that it eludes a bit, not as much as the South African isolate, but it eludes a bit some of the protection from the antibodies, from monoclonal antibodies as well as the vaccine. The one thing you want to do is to make sure you do not allow that to continue to spread. Two ways to do that, get people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible, and above all, maintain the public health measures that we talk about so often, the masking, the physical distancing and the avoiding of congregate settings, particularly indoors. That’s what you can do to prevent the spread of a worrisome variant.
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