Anthony Stephen Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Biden talked about how long Americans will need to wear masks, based on a report by the PBS News Hour. In many cases, the answer was “months”.
Dr. Fauci’s comments were to some extent based on the rate at which Americans have and will be vaccinated. At this point, the pace is considered slow. His statement was the period would be “for several, several months”, as America works its way toward a time when 75% to 80% of the population has been vaccinated. He added that when the time comes “the level of virus in the community could be so low that you could start pulling back a bit on what are stringent public health measures.”
The chance that the level of the virus in the community will reach that threshold soon is low. The disease becomes more widespread by the day, although this spread has slowed. There are 27,746,122 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 484,930 fatal ones. However, the number of people estimated to have had COVID-19 may be very low as 24/7 Wall St. reported in its article “COVID-19 Cases Have Been Severely Undercounted, Study Says”.
The true figure for cases in the U.S. may be over 70 million.
Vaccination rates in the U.S. continue to be just above single digest across the population. Nationwide, the figure for people who have received at least one dose sits at 11%. A total of 69,014,725
doses have been delivered and 48,410,558, so 70% of doses have been used. This may improve. President Biden said yesterday that the federal government would get enough vaccine for 300 million people by July.
The problems that could undercut the effectiveness of the vaccine acquisition remain two-fold. The first derives from the fact that there are several new variants of the disease. They come, at least, from the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil. Each appears more likely to spread than the current version of COVID-19. And, some could be more deadly, although work to determine that could take weeks.
Dr. Faudi sometimes moves from optimism to pessimism quickly. No wonder, as new variants appear, Americans ignore advice about protecting themselves in large numbers, and the vaccination rate moves ahead haltingly. His latest advice, nevertheless, should drive more levels of concern. An improvement that would allow a return to even a somewhat normal society remains months away.