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Dr. Fauci Just Offered This Important COVID Update

Be careful out there.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Face-mask mandates are being relaxed, but COVID-19 cases are up. Omicron's variants are highly contagious, but public officials are socializing freely without masks—and sometimes testing positive for COVID themselves. Does this mean the pandemic is over? If you're feeling a bit disoriented about where we are right now, you have plenty of company. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, offered some important updates on the pandemic in the Washington Post this week. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

The Pandemic Is Changing, But the U.S. Is Not Out of the Woods

Portrait of doctor with face mask and clipboard looking at camera in hospital.
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Fauci told the Washington Post that the U.S. "has not reached a major milestone." Instead, we're in a different position. During the Omicron surge of last winter, the country was in the "full-blown pandemic phase," followed by what he called "deceleration" phase. "There's the full-blown pandemic dynamic, the way we were months ago, where we were having 900,000 cases a day, tens of thousands of hospitalizations, 3,000 deaths a day," he said. "The deaths went from 3,000 down to 300."

So where are we right now, exactly?

2

U.S. At a Transition Point, Fauci Said

Close-up of young man getting PCR test at doctor's office during coronavirus epidemic.
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"Right now, we're at a low enough level that I believe that we're transitioning into endemicity. … We're not in the full-blown explosive pandemic phase. That does not mean that the pandemic is over," Fauci told the Post. "A pandemic means widespread infection throughout the world. … In our country, we're transitioning into more of a controlled endemicity."

3

But We're Not There Yet

Patient arriving at medical clinic and being called by the doctor using face mask.
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Fauci told the Post that the U.S. is transitioning to the "control" phase of the pandemic. That's one in which the virus still circulating, but it isn't taxing hospitals or causing an overwhelming number of deaths. Most importantly: He said we're not in that phase yet.

4

What Does That Mean?

Woman wearing protective face mask in the office
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The CDC officially recommends wearing a face mask in public in areas where community spread of COVID is high, as indicated by this color-coded map on its website.

Health experts including Dr. Fauci have said that Americans need to make an individual risk assessment in choosing whether to do things that might be risky for COVID exposure. For example: Are you immunocompromised, or do you live with someone who might be susceptible to a severe case of COVID? 

"Each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take in going to indoor dinners and in going to functions, even within the realm of a green zone map of the country, where you see everything looks green but it's starting to tick up," said Fauci earlier this month. "We're at the point that … we're going to have to live with some degree of virus in the community."

5

How to Stay Safe Out There

Nurse gives students a vaccination in school during coronavirus pandemic
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Follow the 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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