Americans should celebrate good news about declining Covid cases as the holiday season approaches but should not “prematurely declare victory” over the coronavirus, Dr Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.
The right approach to increasing vaccinations and observing public health precautions would contribute to a happy Halloween for children, the chief White House medical adviser said, pointing to imminent federal consideration of data which will lead to a decision on whether children aged five to 12 are eligible for a shot.
“Particularly if you’re vaccinated you can get out there” trick-or-treating, Fauci told CNN’s State of the Union.
“You’re outdoors for the most part, at least when my children were out there doing trick-or-treating [they were], and enjoy it. I mean this is a time that children love, it’s a very important part of the year for children.
“So … if you’re not vaccinated, again, think about it, that you’ll add an extra degree of protection to yourself and your children and your family and your community. So it’s a good time to reflect on why it’s important to get vaccinated, but go out there and enjoy Halloween as well as the other holidays that will be coming up.”
Resistance to vaccinations is strongest in Republican-run states, as elected officials wield public skepticism as a political cudgel at local, state and national levels. The US death toll has passed 712,000, from more than 44m cases. The vast majority of hospitalisations and deaths are among unvaccinated people.
Fauci would not be drawn on whether the US should implement a vaccine mandate for air travel, as Canada has done, ahead of a holiday season which also includes Thanksgiving and Christmas, periods when millions of Americans usually fly to visit their families.
Pointing to falls in Covid case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths as a surge fueled by the Delta variant recedes, Fauci said: “We have to just be careful that we don’t prematurely declare victory in many respects.
“We still have around 68 million people who are eligible to be vaccinated, that have not yet gotten vaccinated. Even those who have been vaccinated, I mean you you want to look forward to holiday seasons and spending time with your family and doing those sorts of things. But don’t just throw your hands up and say it’s all over.”
Asked how long it might be before vaccinated Americans could safely take off masks indoors, Fauci said: “I need to see the dynamics of the outbreak in the community go way down.
“Even though we just said it’s going in the right direction, we have less than 100,000 cases a day, it’s about 95,000 as the seven-day average. That’s still way too high. We want to get way, way down. I mean I’d like to see it well below 10,000 and even much lower than that.
“But when you’re at 95,000 that’s still a situation where you have a high degree of dynamic circulation of virus in the community.”
Fauci also said that “if you look at the history of the surges and the diminutions in cases over a period of time, they can bounce back. So we don’t want to always, you know, be be on our edge that it’s going to happen because it won’t if we do what we should be doing, namely particularly getting more people vaccinated.”