According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 33 million Americans have been vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine as of mid-March. Hospitalization rates of patients admitted within a 7-day average have also dropped 70.4% since their peak in early January in America. These statistics are both integral reasons as to why certain states in the United States are beginning to slowly open back up again.
On March 15, L.A. County officially entered into the “red tier” per the county’s government website. The previous purple tier that L.A. County was in indicated that the virus was widespread. Most schools were not able to open at all (unless special circumstances) and businesses were open at very limited capacity. Also, restaurants were limited to outdoor dining. Now, indoor dining may resume at 25% capacity, gyms can reopen at 10% capacity with masking and even movie theaters can open at 25% capacity among other things. It seems that life, at least in Los Angeles, is slowly starting to go back to normal.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has been one of the many doctors working to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to being the president’s chief medical advisor, he also serves as the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He believes that America will be approaching normalcy in the fall and winter of 2021, but that citizens should continue to wear masks into 2022. “Hopefully, by the time we start entering 2022, we really will have a degree of normality that will approximate the kind of normality we’ve been used to,” Fauci said.
Why does Fauci think total normality won’t come before 2022 when Americans are gaining a sense of normalcy as cities start to open up? This simply has to do with mask mandates and vaccine distribution.
Although recommended by most state governments, 17 states as of now do not currently require their citizens to wear face masks while out in public. Some notable states that have lifted their mask mandates include Florida and Texas, both states which have seen dramatic decreases in their number of COVID-19 cases. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Texas has seen a 39.7% decrease in daily cases during the first two weeks of March.
However, many scientists and doctors do not believe that lifting the mask mandates in these states was the right decision. One of these doctors was Fauci himself. “I want to see it [COVID-19 cases] go way down. When it goes way down and the overwhelming majority of the people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable in saying, you know, we need to pull back on the masks, we don’t need to have masks,” he said in an interview on CNN.
In terms of vaccinations, Fauci expressed in the same interview that he believes all adults will be able to get vaccinated by early May. Back in December, he stated that if 75% to 80% of Americans are vaccinated, the country can start to return to normalcy by the end of 2021. There are also growing concerns about COVID-19 variants and whether these vaccines will be able to fight them.
Currently, studies are taking place around the world to see how effective the current Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Pfizer vaccines are against test samples of the virus’s variants. Galit Alter, a Harvard immunologist, believes that the current vaccines are effective enough to end the pandemic, regardless of the variants that are present around the globe.
Although it seems states are beginning to open up, it is important that reopening is conducted in a safe manner. If Dr. Fauci’s predictions are correct, the U.S. should be safely past the pandemic by late 2022.