Sep 12, 2020 - Health

Fauci warns U.S. won't return to normal until "well into 2021"

Anthony Fauci testifying before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in July.
Anthony Fauci testifying before the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in July. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/AFP via Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC on Friday that it's unlikely life in the U.S. will go back to normal by the end of 2020, saying pre-coronavirus conditions may not return until "well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021."

Why it matters: Fauci's statements are at odd with recent comments from President Trump, who has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the country is ”rounding the turn” on the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: “If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality which resembles where we were prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, maybe even towards the end of 2021," Fauci told MSNBC.

  • Fauci took issue with Trump's characterization of the pandemic, calling current trends "disturbing."
  • "I believe that we will have a vaccine that will be available by the end of this year, the beginning of next year. But by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations and you get the majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not going to happen until the mid- or end of 2021."
  • "We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy. We know every time we restrict, we lift restrictions, we get a blip."

By the numbers: More than 192,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S., while 6.4 million have tested positive, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The big picture: Responding to Trump's admission to journalist Bob Woodward that he downplayed the seriousness of the virus to avoid inciting panic, Fauci called the president's understatements "a threat."

  • "When you downplay something that is really a threat, that's not a good thing," Fauci said.
  • However, he also told Fox News this week that he "didn't get any sense" that Trump "was distorting anything" about the virus.
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