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Dr. Fauci Says COVID Could Last Another Year

It will be over a year before things feel normal, according to the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

For the last couple of months, health experts have promised that a COVID-19 vaccine should be ready and available in early 2021. Due to this exciting information, many people are assuming that life will go back to normal immediately after the vaccine starts to be administered. However, according to the nation's leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, this isn't the case. In a new interview with Wolf Blitzer, the key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force reveals it will be over a year before any sort of normalcy resumes. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

The Infection Rate is Still High 

Dr. Fauci discussed the current situation in the pandemic and that we aren't exactly at the turning point—"we're averaging close to 40,000 new infections a day and a thousand deaths," he pointed out. "So we are still in the middle of this. And in order to get any semblance of normality, you've got to get that baseline number of infections way down." Once there is a vaccine, "it's not going to be turning a switch off and turning a switch on, It's going to be gradual."

Mask Wearing and Social Distancing Will be the Norm Until Late 2021

"I think it's going to take several months before we get to the point where we can really feel something that approximates how it was normally before COVID-19," he admitted. " And for that reason, I made the projection of getting back to that state of normality well into 2021 and very unlikely before then."

When asked if it could be "probably a bit longer" than a year, Dr. Fauci said yes. For example, Dr. Fauci specifically mentions activities like going to a movie theater and dining in a restaurant at full capacity sans mask as two "normal activities" that won't be the norm for quite awhile. "As long as you have active infection in the community, you're going to have to do the things that we've been talking about all along—wearing a mask, keeping physical distance, avoiding crowds, trying to do things outdoors, much more than indoors," he continued. "Once we get a very, very low level of infection, one that's easily controllable. Then we could start talking about what we just mentioned, normal living, going to a theater, going to a restaurant, not having to wear a mask." 

Blitzer asked him again, point blank, if we are going to be wearing a mask through 2021. 

"You're hearing it correctly from me, Wolf," he confirmed. 

RELATED: 11 Signs You've Already Had COVID-19

On How the Vaccine Will Work 

The reason why has to do with the availability of the vaccine as well as the willingness of people to get it. And also, the fact that herd immunity doesn't happen overnight.  When we get a vaccine—let's say available at the end of the year—there will be millions and tens of millions of doses available. It won't be until we get into 2021 that you'll have hundreds of millions of doses and just the logistics constraints in vaccinating, large numbers of people. It's going to take months to get enough people vaccinated, to have an umbrella of immunity over the community so that you don't have to worry about easy transmission," he continued. 

"It's not going to be an overnight event where you have a vaccine and then all of a sudden everything is okay. It's going to take several months to get the population of this country vaccinated and protected from infection."

What We Need to Do in Order to Get Back to Normal 

In order to get back to baseline, Fauci suggests a gradual and cautious approach outlined by the Coronavirus Task Force—phase one, two, and three based on regional infection rates—and not to attempt to rush things. 

"What we need to accept and realize is that public health measures are the gateway and the vehicle and the road to opening up the economy and getting back to normal. It's not the obstacle in getting in the way of opening up. It's the roadway to opening up," he says. "The only trouble is that we've seen such discrepancy in how different States and different cities in different regions have done that."

"It isn't something I'm making up," he added. "You know, you just look at the history over the last few months where some States have jumped over the benchmarks and maybe prematurely opened, some have done it correctly, but the people within the cities and the States have not listened. And they've done things that we've said not to do—namely congregating without masks, going to bars, transmitting infections."

He pointed out that most major surges have occurred after holiday weekends such as 4th of July and Memorial Day.  "I just hope that in the next week or two, we don't see the same similar surge following the Labor Day weekend. What I hope the lessons that we tried are going to be heard." So do as Fauci says: wear a mask, social distance, avoid crowds and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah