There are two key things the United States can do to prevent more infections, more hospitalizations and more deaths, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.
“A, you keep pushing and doubling down on public health measures and B, you do everything you can to vaccinate as many people as quickly and expeditiously as possible,” he said on Saturday.
On the vaccine front, the United States has done “extremely well,” Fauci said. The country reported a new record over the weekend with more than four million doses of Covid-19 vaccine administered in 24 hours, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But despite the record rate of vaccinations, there are still not enough vaccinated Americans to control the spread of the virus, experts warn. So far, about 31.4% of Americans have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and only 18% of the population is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.
That’s why experts urge you to continue security measures for now.
“We say it over and over and we need local people, we need governors and mayors and others to be able to say, we are not done yet,” Fauci said. “People say, ‘Well, you just want to confine us forever.’ No, this is not going to last forever because every day four million, three million people are vaccinated, they get closer and closer to control. “
More than a dozen state leaders have announced an easing of restrictions in recent weeks, while several have removed the mask mandates.
“What we are saying is to double down, hold out a little longer,” Fauci added, “and the vaccine, and the vaccines of the people in this country will nullify the rise of the virus. There is no doubt that the vaccine is going to win.”
States that sound the alarm
Officials in several states have already reported alarming data.
Michigan is in the midst of another surge driven by increased gatherings, more people moving, economic reopens and outbreaks in some schools and prisons, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical officer, told CNN late last month.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also told CNN last week that another reason the state is seeing a large number of cases is “a high proportion of variants.” Michigan has reported the second highest number of cases of the most contagious B.1.1.7 variant, according to CDC data, behind Florida.
“These are much more contagious and we are seeing that either in youth sports or in engagement at some of our restaurants,” Whitmer said.
In neighboring Ohio, Governor Mike DeWine also raised the alarm. Cases are also beginning to increase there, said a press release from the governor’s office.
And variant activity is also increasing, said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, medical director for the Ohio Department of Health.
“Ohio is still in a race against a virus that is now more contagious and is on our heels,” Vanderhoff said. “We can win this race as long as we don’t waver; as long as we go ahead with consistent masking and vaccination.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also expressed concern Friday about the state’s latest case and hospitalization numbers.
“It is clear that, in Oregon and across the country, the fourth wave of this virus is on our doorstep,” Brown said in a news release. While Oregon’s case numbers have fortunately not matched those in other states experiencing large spikes, our numbers are on the rise and we are on alert again. “
Vermont officials said Friday they were concerned that the surge in Covid-19 cases their state is experiencing could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
“My optimism is for the future, and the future is very close. But when it comes to the present, frankly, I am very concerned,” said Dr. Mark Levine, state health commissioner.
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The role vaccines will play
Experts and state leaders have highlighted that Covid-19 vaccines will be the country’s fastest way to get back to normal.
As vaccination numbers in the US rise, the CDC is releasing more guidance on what fully vaccinated Americans can do.
On Friday, the agency released a long-awaited update to the travel guide for fully vaccinated people, removing some testing and quarantine recommendations. The CDC considers someone to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, but travel is not yet recommended today, while the US sees a growing number of Covid cases. -19.
Read the updated travel guide here
The agency also said that people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus can safely gather for Easter on Sunday, both indoors and without masks.
Meanwhile, different parts of the country are navigating the role vaccines will play in returning to normal.
Cornell University announced that it intends to require Covid-19 vaccination for students returning to the Ithaca, Geneva and Cornell Tech campuses in the fall of 2021. The university said that while it will accept medical and religious exemptions, ” the expectation will be that our campuses and classrooms will be made up mostly of vaccinated people, which will greatly reduce the risk of infection for everyone. “
That announcement comes just days after Rutgers University said it will require students who attend classes in person this fall to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning the use of Covid-19 passports in the state. His order prohibits any government entity from issuing vaccine passports and prevents companies from requiring such documentation.
The governor cited concerns for freedom and privacy as the main basis for that action and argued that the implementation and enforcement of vaccine passports “would create two classes of citizens based on vaccines.”
“Individual Covid-19 vaccination records are private health information and should not be shared by mandate,” the order reads.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Sahar Akbarzai, Anjali Huynh and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.