Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Friday that the US may soon be hit with a spike in COVID-19 cases — even though the country has administered more vaccine shots than any other nation.
The recent plateau in cases from record-high post-holiday rates is actually a sign that Americans should mask up and brace for another potential boom in infections, Fauci said while citing past coronavirus data trends at a White House press briefing.
“We’ve just now recently experienced the worst surge,” Fauci said. “The issue is that we are starting to plateau. That plateau is about 60,000 to 70,000 cases a day. When you have that much viral activity in a plateau, it almost invariably means that you are at risk of another spike.
“Many countries in Europe have seen just that — over the past week, an increase in cases by 9 percent, something we desperately want to avoid,” he added.
By contrast, when coronavirus cases leveled off after the first wave of infections last spring, the national daily caseload was roughly a third of what it is today, he said.
“Many of us will recall very, very vividly — in the end of the winter and the beginning of the spring — we had a surge that was dominated by the New York metropolitan area. After the surge, what we came down to was a baseline of about 20,000 cases per day. That is a very high baseline, relatively speaking,” he said.
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He warned that even amid optimism over federal plans to get all Americans vaccinated by May, it’s crucial to keep fighting the virus with masks, social distancing and hand-washing.
Meanwhile, White House officials reported that nearly 55 percent of Americans age 65 and older have received at least one vaccine shot in the US.
A total of 82 million people — more than any other country — have been vaccinated in the US, according to Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior adviser for the COVID-19 Response Team.