Masks, Social Distancing Likely Until 2022

“We shouldn’t be lulled into complacency that this is only an old person disease,” Fauci said.

The best way to achieve herd immunity is through a vaccine, he said. Otherwise, a large number of people will die by simply allowing everyone to become infected with the coronavirus. A “profound degree” of herd immunity won’t likely happen until the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022, he said, which is why he predicts public health measures such as face masks and social distancing will continue until then.

Those public health measures are particularly important now as coronavirus cases continue to increase across the country, especially in the Midwest, CDC officials said Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a distressing trend here in the United States, with COVID-19 cases increasing in nearly 75% of the country,” Jay Butler, MD, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, said at a media briefing at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, according to CNBC.

“Smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends, and neighbors may be driving transmission as well, especially as they move indoors,” he said.

Butler said COVID-19 cases are growing “really in all parts of the country,” and although people are growing tired of the safety precautions, they’re still important.

“We’re tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it has ever been, and I would say even more important than ever as we move into the fall season,” he said.

The U.S. is now reporting about 60,000 new daily cases, according to a CNBC analysis, which is up about 17% compared to a week ago. The country has now reported more than 8.3 million cases and more than 222,000 deaths as of Thursday morning, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Butler said that a safe and effective vaccine would be ready “very soon” and that he is “cautiously optimistic” that one will be available in limited numbers by the end of the year. Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said two companies making vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna — are “very close, if not fully enrolled in their trials.”

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