What you need to know about COVID-19: ‘Impossible to predict’ how long pandemic will last, Fauci says

Without a national effort to adhere to preventative measures, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said it will be impossible to predict how much longer the COVID-19 pandemic will last in the United States.The U.S. is seeing a resurgence of coronavirus infections after states began reopening their economies. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation increased its forecast to 219,864 total deaths by November, in part because the nation continues to debate measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.”The thing we need to do is we need to pull out all the stops to get it down to baseline and to keep it there by doing the things that we’ve been talking about — that I’ve been talking about — consistently,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday during CNN’s coronavirus town hall.Regularly taking such precautions is especially important given that a backlog in getting test results is rendering some coronavirus testing practically useless.”It shouldn’t be acceptable” that U.S. testing is so backlogged, said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.While he said about 25% of tests give results in about 15 minutes, most take days. Giroir said his goal is for all tests to be “sensitive and specific and back within 15 minutes.”But, he said, “you can’t test your way out of this,” and people should wear masks, avoid crowds and avoid being indoors with others.Added Fauci: “If we do that, then I think we will be well toward seeing this under control. If we don’t, then we can’t make a prediction about how long this will last.”The latest numbersMore than 4.5 million cases of the virus and 153,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.Fauci optimistic about vaccine availabilityIn the meantime, the race is on for a vaccine to protect against coronavirus, and though some early data looks promising, there are still questions around vaccines in development.Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s multi-billion dollar COVID-19 vaccine program, has provided funding for two potential vaccines that have quickly made their way to advanced human trial phases.The head of the operation, Moncef Slaoui, said Thursday he wouldn’t be surprised if a vaccine turned out to be 90% effective against the virus, but Fauci said only time will tell.”We will hope its going to be that way,” Fauci said. “As we’ve said all the time, you just never can tell. The proof of the pudding is to do the clinical trial and get the result and that’s actually what we’re doing.”Once a coronavirus vaccine is approved as safe and effective, Americans should have widespread access within a reasonable time, Fauci assured lawmakers Friday.Appearing before a House panel investigating the nation’s response to the pandemic, Fauci expressed “cautious” optimism that a vaccine would be available, particularly by next year.“I believe, ultimately, over a period of time in 2021, that Americans will be able to get it,” Fauci said, referring to the vaccine.There will be a priority list for who gets early vaccinations. “I don’t think we will have everybody getting it immediately,” Fauci explained.But “ultimately, within a reasonable time, the plans allow for any American who needs the vaccine to get it,” he added. Fauci said a quarter-million people have expressed interest in taking part in studies of experimental vaccines for the coronavirus.He said that 250,000 people have registered on a government website to take part in vaccine trials, which are pivotal for establishing safety and effectiveness. Not all patients who volunteer to take part in clinical trials are eligible to participate.Plans put into action as first day of school nearsAs the start of the school year grows closer, officials are tasked with balancing public concern over children’s safety with the impact virtual learning could have on their education and welfare.In New York City, students will return to school with safety protocols for cleaning, contact tracing and distancing, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.”We are doing everything in our power to keep kids healthy while ensuring they are getting the education they deserve. These rigorous test and trace protocols will keep our students and staff safe as we start off this new school year,” de Blasio said.Philadelphia originally was going to return to a school year that combined virtual and in-person learning, but after backlash the Board of Education voted to provide all remote learning until at least November, with Superintendent Dr. William Hite promising that the change will not remove the emphasis on student achievement.Districts in Florida are still weighing their options, but Gov. Ron DeSantis is advocating for a model based on parents’ choice.”I believe that there should be a choice for parents throughout Florida,” DeSantis said.”Parents who prefer distance learning should be able to opt for it, and parents who desire in person instruction should have access to it.”States try to turn trends downward As parents and school districts weigh their choices, state officials are strategizing how to reverse climbing infection numbers.Texas researchers estimated Thursday that just two weeks of social distancing policies cut the spread of coronavirus by 65%, while states that have resisted those policies saw almost no reduction.Illinois could be reversing its reopening plan and heading back toward social distancing policies if the number of positive cases continue to climb, said Governor J.B. Pritzker during a news conference on Thursday.Arizona is a state “headed in the right direction” with a downward trend since early July, Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday.”This is not a victory lap. This is not a celebration. If anything, it’s evidence that the decisions, and the sacrifice that Arizonans are making are working,” Ducey said.Stop the spread of COVID-19To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.

Without a national effort to adhere to preventative measures, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor said it will be impossible to predict how much longer the COVID-19 pandemic will last in the United States.

The U.S. is seeing a resurgence of coronavirus infections after states began reopening their economies. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation increased its forecast to 219,864 total deaths by November, in part because the nation continues to debate measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.

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“The thing we need to do is we need to pull out all the stops to get it down to baseline and to keep it there by doing the things that we’ve been talking about — that I’ve been talking about — consistently,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Thursday during CNN’s coronavirus town hall.

Regularly taking such precautions is especially important given that a backlog in getting test results is rendering some coronavirus testing practically useless.

“It shouldn’t be acceptable” that U.S. testing is so backlogged, said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

While he said about 25% of tests give results in about 15 minutes, most take days. Giroir said his goal is for all tests to be “sensitive and specific and back within 15 minutes.”

But, he said, “you can’t test your way out of this,” and people should wear masks, avoid crowds and avoid being indoors with others.

Added Fauci: “If we do that, then I think we will be well toward seeing this under control. If we don’t, then we can’t make a prediction about how long this will last.”

The latest numbers

More than 4.5 million cases of the virus and 153,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S., according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci optimistic about vaccine availability

In the meantime, the race is on for a vaccine to protect against coronavirus, and though some early data looks promising, there are still questions around vaccines in development.

Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s multi-billion dollar COVID-19 vaccine program, has provided funding for two potential vaccines that have quickly made their way to advanced human trial phases.

The head of the operation, Moncef Slaoui, said Thursday he wouldn’t be surprised if a vaccine turned out to be 90% effective against the virus, but Fauci said only time will tell.

“We will hope its going to be that way,” Fauci said. “As we’ve said all the time, you just never can tell. The proof of the pudding is to do the clinical trial and get the result and that’s actually what we’re doing.”

Once a coronavirus vaccine is approved as safe and effective, Americans should have widespread access within a reasonable time, Fauci assured lawmakers Friday.

Appearing before a House panel investigating the nation’s response to the pandemic, Fauci expressed “cautious” optimism that a vaccine would be available, particularly by next year.

“I believe, ultimately, over a period of time in 2021, that Americans will be able to get it,” Fauci said, referring to the vaccine.

There will be a priority list for who gets early vaccinations. “I don’t think we will have everybody getting it immediately,” Fauci explained.

But “ultimately, within a reasonable time, the plans allow for any American who needs the vaccine to get it,” he added.

Fauci said a quarter-million people have expressed interest in taking part in studies of experimental vaccines for the coronavirus.

He said that 250,000 people have registered on a government website to take part in vaccine trials, which are pivotal for establishing safety and effectiveness. Not all patients who volunteer to take part in clinical trials are eligible to participate.

Plans put into action as first day of school nears

As the start of the school year grows closer, officials are tasked with balancing public concern over children’s safety with the impact virtual learning could have on their education and welfare.

In New York City, students will return to school with safety protocols for cleaning, contact tracing and distancing, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

“We are doing everything in our power to keep kids healthy while ensuring they are getting the education they deserve. These rigorous test and trace protocols will keep our students and staff safe as we start off this new school year,” de Blasio said.

Philadelphia originally was going to return to a school year that combined virtual and in-person learning, but after backlash the Board of Education voted to provide all remote learning until at least November, with Superintendent Dr. William Hite promising that the change will not remove the emphasis on student achievement.

Districts in Florida are still weighing their options, but Gov. Ron DeSantis is advocating for a model based on parents’ choice.

“I believe that there should be a choice for parents throughout Florida,” DeSantis said.”Parents who prefer distance learning should be able to opt for it, and parents who desire in person instruction should have access to it.”

States try to turn trends downward

As parents and school districts weigh their choices, state officials are strategizing how to reverse climbing infection numbers.

Texas researchers estimated Thursday that just two weeks of social distancing policies cut the spread of coronavirus by 65%, while states that have resisted those policies saw almost no reduction.

Illinois could be reversing its reopening plan and heading back toward social distancing policies if the number of positive cases continue to climb, said Governor J.B. Pritzker during a news conference on Thursday.

Arizona is a state “headed in the right direction” with a downward trend since early July, Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday.

“This is not a victory lap. This is not a celebration. If anything, it’s evidence that the decisions, and the sacrifice that Arizonans are making are working,” Ducey said.

Stop the spread of COVID-19

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask.

Masks are required in public places in some states and businesses. Multiple major retailers have announced mask requirement policies as the nation continues to see a large number of cases reported in certain areas.

The CDC also recommends you keep 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

Make sure to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

For more tips on how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.