Coronavirus cases are going back up nationwide, as cooler weather approaches. When will this pandemic end, and how can you stay safe? To answer that, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; CDC Chief Dr. Rochelle Walensky; and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy appeared at a COVID briefing moments ago. Read on for seven life-saving pieces of guidance—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Fauci Said This is the Ultimate Goal in Controlling the Pandemic
“When you look at any kind of an outbreak, there’s the pandemic phase, the deceleration phase, control, elimination and eradication,” said Dr. Fauci. “I don’t think we’re going to get eradication. We’ve only done that with smallpox. We’ve eliminated diseases by vaccination, like polio in the United States, we’ve eliminated measles in the United States. It exists other places. We’ve eliminated malaria years and years ago, but it exists in other places. So I don’t think we’re going to eliminate it completely. We want control. And I think the confusion is at what level of control are you going to accept it in its endemicity? And as far as we’re concerned, we don’t know really what that number is, but we will know it won’t be get there. It certainly is far, far lower than 80,000 new infections per day, and is far, far lower than a thousand deaths per day, and tens of thousands of hospitalizations. So even though there’s a wide bracket under control, we want to get to the lowest possible level than we can get. And rather than picking an arbitrary number, why don’t we get as many people as we can get vaccinated, vaccinated as quickly as possible and get as many people who were eligible for booster, getting boosted as possible. And then when we get to that low level, we will know it rather than picking out an arbitrary number back to you.”
Dr. Fauci Set Out to Convince You the Vaccines Work
“As more and more people get vaccinated, no vaccine is a hundred percent effective. So we’re hearing reports of even vaccinated people getting infected, having some people to in fact question the effectiveness of vaccines. So let’s take a look at that to see if we can clarify that situation. Let’s just go to different places. Let’s take Texas and look at a comparison of unvaccinated people with vaccinated people: Unvaccinated people were 13 times more likely to become infected than fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people were 20 times more likely to die than fully vaccinated people. And that is the state of Texas.
“Let’s take a look now at the age range of that, because people may think that when you’re in a certain age range, you may not benefit from vaccines,” said Dr. Fauci. Not true. “Let’s take a look at Virginia and take a look at among over 5 million Virginians who have been vaccinated. The hospitalization rate is extraordinarily low at 0.035%. And those who’ve died is 0.01 to five.” He showed similar stats from Australia. “So what do we have? We have 62 million Americans eligible for vaccines who are still not vaccinated. The data that I show you do not lie—vaccines, protect you, your family and your community. And importantly, it is not too late. Get vaccinated now. And importantly, if you are already vaccinated six months or more ago and eligible for boost, get a boost because as a matter of fact, the data that I just showed you for vaccinations in general, hold true for boosters because the Israelis have shown that when you boost you multifold diminish the likelihood of getting infected, getting sick or dying.”
CDC Chief Said Please Get Boosted When It’s Your Turn
“The current seven day daily average of cases is about 83,600 cases per day. The seven day average of hospital admissions is about 5,300 per day. And seven day average daily deaths are about 1,000 per day…In recent weeks, we have also seen additional data that reinforce the importance of COVID-19 boosters for these populations at higher risk of severe disease, particularly to ensure protection against severe illness and hospitalizations. Those who live in long-term care facilities and adults over age 65 were among the first eligible for vaccination. And as vaccine coverage increased in these groups, we saw our emergency department visits decline in both after early and robust vaccination efforts in January and February. We had powerful evidence that demonstrated that vaccines are effective and provide protection against the severe complications of COVID-19, especially in those at risk because of their age or underlying conditions. Since then, we’ve been watching vaccine effectiveness in this population carefully, although the highest risk are those people who are unvaccinated. We are seeing an increase in emergency department visits among adults, age 65 and older, which are now again higher than they are for younger age groups.
“Similarly,” she continued, “we also have new data that look at COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities from our national healthcare safety network. When we compare rates of COVID-19 disease, between those who are vaccinated with two doses, and those who have received a booster dose, the rate of disease is markedly lower. For those who received their booster shot, demonstrating our boosters are working. FDA is currently evaluating data on the authorization of booster doses for all people over age 18, as we’ve done before, CDC will quickly review the safety and effectiveness data and make recommendations as soon as we hear from FDA. So we want to reinforce the importance of people who are eligible, getting boosted now, especially those at highest risk for disease or severe disease.”
CDC Chief Warned That It’s Flu Season; Get Your Flu Shot
“This time of year, we typically see other respiratory viruses circulating like influenza. Last week’s influenza surveillance report noted an increase in flu activity that could mark the beginning of the influenza season,” said Walensky. “We have been anticipating the return of flu viruses this season. If you’re wondering if you should get a flu vaccine, you should. It’ll protect you and your family against the flu. What’s the best gift to give this year? Consider the gift of health. It’s priceless as we head into the holiday and winter season now is the time to think about protection for ourselves and our families. So many of us miss being with our friends and family last year, for those who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and who are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose, go out now and get your extra booster dose to protect you. And for those who are not yet vaccinated and including our children, teens, and adolescents who are now all eligible for vaccination, get vaccinated, this getting vaccinated this week, we’ll set you up to being fully protected in time for the holidays and by the end of the year.”
Surgeon General Warned You May Encounter Misinformation
Misinformation spreads, continually. “I’ve even heard some of these myths from my own, my own family members. Who’ve received misleading videos and false articles through text chains and social media feeds,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. He released this toolkit to help you fight misinformation. “I had to talk to my family members about why this content is harmful while it’s clear that stopping misinformation is an urgent task. In the end, we all have the power to protect people in our lives without misinformation, whether we’re able to reach just a few trusted family members or friends or a few million people through our platform, we can all make an impact.”
CDC Chief Said This About When You Might Take Off Your Mask
Some areas, like D.C., may be relaxing indoor mask mandates. Before you take off your mask after vaccination, check to see how high COVID is in your area. “We currently still have over 85% of our counties in this country that are in substantial or high transmission. CDC guidance, first of all, obviously getting vaccinated, but the CDC guidance does recommend that jurisdictions be in the moderate or low transmission community transmission for several weeks before releasing mask requirements,” said Walensky.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.