Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official, warned Americans Sunday that another round of local lockdown orders was likely if the country cannot get the current third spike of COVID-19 cases under control with social distancing and mask-wearing measures.
When asked by CNN's Jake Tapper if Americans should prepare for new stay-at-home orders in their state or city, Fauci answered, "I think that likely will happen...if we don’t turn around this surge,” but said it was unlikely the country would see a national lockdown. The country is currently in the grips of its worst wave of the coronavirus yet, with record hospitalizations reported last week in 25 U.S. states, CNN reported. Thursday, the U.S. broke another record of daily coronavirus cases, topping 118,000 new cases in the second straight day with more than 100,000 new cases.
"Obviously, everyone is sensitive to what we call ‘COVID fatigue,’" Fauci said Sunday. "But we’ve got to hang in there a bit longer, particularly as we get into the holiday season and the colder weather." Vaccine news is promising, with Pfizer announcing last week that early data from trials suggests its vaccine candidate is 90% effective in preventing infection, but it would be months before the vaccine would be publicly available. In the 10 months since the start of the pandemic, more than 9.6 million people in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19, and more than 234,000 people have died. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 266,000 total U.S. fatalities by the end of November.
Once the vaccine is available, Fauci said it will then be shifting efforts to get people to take it in order for the vaccine to be effective. "So, if we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine, and you have on the one hand an effective vaccine, on the other hand, a high degree of uptake of the vaccine, we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago," he continued.
It has been "several months" since President Donald Trump attended a coronavirus response task force meeting, Fauci added, although he assured that Vice President Mike Pence "translates" their discussions to Trump. President-elect Joe Biden announced last week that under his administration, there will be a new COVID task force co-chaired by Vivek H. Murthy, surgeon general during the Obama administration; David Kessler, Food and Drug Administration commissioner under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine. The remaining members are all doctors and health experts.
"Daily cases are skyrocketing, and it's now believed we could see as many as 200,000 cases in a single day," Biden said at the time. "I want you to know that I’ll work hard for those who voted against me as well as those who voted for me. That’s the job. That's the job. It’s called the duty of care for all Americans."