There are two key things the US can do to prevent more infections, hospitalizations and deaths, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN.
“A, you keep pushing down and doubling down on public health measures and B, you do whatever you can to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible,” he said on Saturday.
That’s why experts urge continued safety measures for now.
“We say it over and over again and we need the local people, we need the governors and the mayors and others to be able to say, we’re not out of it yet,” Fauci said. “People say, ‘Well you just want to confine us forever.’ No, this is not going to last forever because every day that you get four million, three million people vaccinated, you get closer and closer to control.”
One expert compared the current state of Covid-19 in the US to a “Category 5 hurricane status, with regard to the rest of the world.”
“At this point, we will see in the next two weeks, the highest number of cases reported globally since the beginning of the pandemic. In terms of the United States, we’re just at the beginning of this surge, we haven’t even really begun to see it yet,” Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
He warned that the country is now in the cycle where the Upper Midwest is beginning a fourth surge.
“I think it was a wake-up call to everyone yesterday when Michigan reported out at 8,400 new cases, and we’re now seeing increasing numbers of severe illnesses, ICU hospitalizations, in individuals who are between 30 and 50 years of age who have not been vaccinated,” Osterholm said.
“What we’re saying is double down, just hang in there a bit longer,” Fauci added, “And the vaccine, and the vaccinations of people in this country are going to override the surge of the virus. There’s no doubt the vaccine is going to win out.”
States sounding the alarm
Already, officials across several states have reported alarming data.
“These are much more contagious and we’re seeing that whether it is at youth sports or it is the re-engagement of some of our restaurants,” Whitmer said.
And variant activity is also on the rise, according to Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the chief medical officer at the Ohio Department of Health.
“Ohio remains in a race against a virus that is now more contagious and right back on our heels,” Vanderhoff said. “We can win this race as long as we don’t falter; as long as we press on with consistent masking and vaccination.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also expressed concern Friday over the state’s latest case and hospitalization numbers.
Vermont officials said Friday they were worried the rise in Covid-19 cases that their state is experiencing could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
“My optimism is for the future, and the future is very near. But when it comes to the present, frankly, I am very concerned,” said Dr. Mark Levine, the state health commissioner.
The role vaccinations will play
Experts and state leaders have highlighted that Covid-19 vaccinations will be the country’s quickest way toward a return to normalcy.
Fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said, but travel is still not recommended currently while the US sees rising numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, different parts of the country are navigating the role that vaccinations will play in the return to normalcy.
The governor cited freedom and privacy concerns as the primary basis for that action and argued that the implementation and enforcement of vaccine passports would “create two classes of citizens based on vaccinations.”
“Individual Covid-19 vaccination records are private health information and should not be shared by a mandate,” the order reads.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves says he doesn’t support vaccine passports, either, and that low vaccination rates in his state — it ranks 42nd out of 50 in vaccinations per capita — are due to “vaccine hesitancy.”
“We need to make sure that we educate our people and let them know that this vaccine is safe and while it is under an emergency-use authorization, it has gone through clinical trials with literally tens of thousands of individuals who have done that — it has been peer reviewed,” Reeves told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Sahar Akbarzai, Anjali Huynh and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.