Dr Fauci warns of ‘premature’ end to mask mandates

With COVID-19 cases plummeting in the United States, cities and states are responding accordingly by removing pandemic restrictions like mask mandates. Dr Anthony Fauci said he understands the desire to return to a sense of normality, but he also wants to make sure the country doesn’t calm down too soon. restrictions,” Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said in a one-on-one interview with Hearst Washington correspondent Christopher Salas. “We have to be careful because it’s a bit risky to do something prematurely, although when it all happens you might be right.” In recent weeks, a number of states, including New York, California, Rhode Island, Illinois and New Jersey, have announced plans to drop their indoor mask mandates for fully vaccinated people. . The decisions have left many wondering if the end of the pandemic is in sight. Meanwhile, others, like Fauci, still err on the side of caution. Fauci said that currently more than 90% of the country is still in the “high risk” range against COVID-19, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). standards. However, he acknowledges that this could change very quickly as cases continue to decline, adding that states’ decision to end mask mandates could be a perfect match for the drop in the degree of risk. At the federal level, Fauci expects the CDC to release an update on its own masking requirements fairly quickly. “I can’t tell you when, I hope it will be very soon,” Fauci said. “But they’re going to come out with a set of metrics that people at the local level can follow.” Going forward, Fauci said he believes the best metric to gauge the severity of the spread of COVID-19 would be hospitalizations rather than totals. cases, highlighting the high transmissibility of omicron but its relatively low severity compared to other variants. boosted,” Fauci said. “And yet, if you look at the ratio of hospitalizations to cases, that’s a pretty big discrepancy from what we’ve seen with delta.” So you might be overreacting in a sense if you let cases in a relatively less serious situation dominate, instead of looking at what really matters, which is making sure people don’t get sick and do not get seriously ill. serious illness from COVID-19, new study finds • COVID-19 hospitalizations cost an average of $4,000 per visit, according to research to predict future impact. Although with the stealth omicron in particular, early data shows it is slightly more transmissible than the original omicron variant but not more severe, he said. phase. But, he said the data is pointing in the right direction. “It’s possible, but you really can’t say for sure,” Fauci said. “I believe there is enough background immunity in the population, either from previous infection followed hopefully by vaccination, or vaccination and a booster, that even if the virus changes a bit…they will still have enough background immunity to contain it from being a public health challenge.

With COVID-19 cases plummeting in the United States, cities and states are responding accordingly by removing pandemic restrictions like mask mandates. Dr Anthony Fauci said he understands the desire to return to a sense of normality, but he also wants to make sure the country doesn’t calm down too soon.

“There’s a lot of…pent-up fatigue from people about the restrictions,” Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said in a one-on-one interview with Hearst Washington correspondent Christopher Salas. “We have to be careful because it’s a bit risky to do something prematurely, although when it all happens you might be right.”

In recent weeks, a number of states, including New York, California, Rhode Island, Illinois and New Jersey, have announced plans to drop their indoor mask mandates for people fully vaccinated. The decisions have left many wondering if the end of the pandemic is in sight. Meanwhile, others, like Fauci, are still expressing caution.

Fauci said that currently more than 90% of the country is still in the “high risk” range for COVID-19, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) standards. However, he acknowledges that this could change very quickly as cases continue to decline, adding that states’ decision to end mask mandates could be a perfect match for the drop in the degree of risk.

At the federal level, Fauci expects the CDC to release an update on its own masking requirements fairly soon.

“I can’t tell you when [the CDC will release its update], I hope it will be very soon,” Fauci said. “But they’re going to come out with a set of metrics that people at the local level can follow.”

Going forward, Fauci said he believes the best metric to gauge the severity of the spread of COVID-19 will be hospitalizations rather than total cases, pointing to omicron’s high transmissibility but relatively low severity. compared to the other variants.

“If you look at the example of what happened with omicron, which is clearly a very, very transmissible virus with a lot of breakthroughs in people who have been vaccinated and even boosted,” Fauci said. “And yet, if you look at the ratio of hospitalizations to cases, that’s a pretty big deviation from what we’ve seen with delta.

“So you might be overreacting in a sense if you let cases in a relatively less serious situation dominate, instead of looking at what really matters, which is making sure people don’t fall sick and don’t get seriously ill.”

Monitoring of COVID-19:

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• COVID-19 hospitalizations average $4,000 in out-of-pocket expenses per visit, research finds

As for the sub-variants that keep popping up — the most recent iteration being the stealth omicron — Fauci said it’s hard to predict the future impact. Although with stealth omicron in particular, early data shows it is slightly more transmissible than the original omicron variant but is not more severe, he said.

Despite declining cases and rising herd immunity, Fauci said he was not ready to call this phase endemic. But, he said, the data is pointing in the right direction.

“It’s possible, but you really can’t say for sure,” Fauci said. “I believe there is enough background immunity in the population, either from previous infection followed hopefully by vaccination, or vaccination and a booster, that even if the virus changes a bit…they will still have enough background immunity to contain it from being a public health challenge.

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