COVID-19 infection rates in the United States are ten times the rate they need to be in order for the pandemic to end, chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci warns.
“In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day. You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable,” Fauci told Axios.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the seven-day moving average for cases is currently around 140,000.
With current infection rates as high as they are, Fauci added, “That’s not even modestly good control … which means it’s a public health threat.” He added that “we’re still in pandemic mode.”
Fauci said that when enough people have become vaccinated “you’ll still get some people getting infected, but you’re not going to have it as a public health threat”.
As of Thursday, at least 73 percent of the US eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 62.4 percent fully vaccinated. But just 53 percent of the country’s total population is fully vaccinated.
Fauci, the country’s leading expert on immunology, stated that while available vaccines have been effective, not enough people are taking steps to protect against the delta variant.
He also warned that the longer the pandemic is allowed to rage on, the higher the chances are that a “monster variant” that is stronger than the vaccines will occur.
Immunology experts have repeatedly stated that as long as large groups of people continue to contract COVID-19 and harbor it in their systems, mutations like the delta and more recently identified mu variant will occur, increasing the chances of a vaccine-resistant strain occurring.
President Joe Biden on Thursday admonished unvaccinated Americans and some elected officials for exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic as he laid out new, more aggressive steps his administration is taking to confront COVID-19, according to The Hill.
“We have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to it, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die,” Biden said in prepared remarks from the State Dining Room of the White House.
“We cannot let these actions stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal,” he added.
Biden captured the frustration expressed by vaccinated Americans, saying the US has made substantial progress against the virus but that the remaining 25 percent of eligible Americans — about 80 million people — who have not yet gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 threaten those gains.
He went on to address unvaccinated people directly, telling them that his patience is “wearing thin”.
“My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We have made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden continued, adding, “So please, do the right thing.”
Biden, without naming anyone, also accused some elected officials of “actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19”.
“Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they are ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying of COVID-19 in their communities,” Biden said, adding that “this is totally unacceptable”.
Biden’s remarks represented a notable shift in tone as he more sternly confronts Americans who have not got the COVID-19 vaccine and conservative politicians who have spouted anti-vaccine messages.
At one point on Thursday, Biden suggested the unvaccinated could reverse US gains in the economic recovery.
Biden also announced a new rule that will require all private employers with upwards of 100 employees to mandate weekly testing as well as plans to require vaccines for most federal workers and contractors. He also stated he would require employers to provide paid time off to get the vaccine and he urged large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing to gain entry.
Biden, who two months ago was celebrating the country’s progress against COVID-19 with a large outdoor Independence Day gathering, warned that the US faces a difficult road ahead against the highly contagious delta variant. At the same time, he stressed that the situation would not be as dire as last winter because of the strength of the vaccines in combating serious illness.
“We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for a while,” Biden noted.
COVID-19 cases have risen across the US after a low point earlier this year, as the delta variant has spread among unvaccinated Americans. In some areas of the country, COVID-19 patients have overwhelmed hospitals.