The United States has almost reached the end of the “full-fledged” pandemic and may soon reach sufficient levels of immunity to limit the spread of the virus, Dr Anthony Fauci has said.
Local health agencies should feel comfortable ending mask mandates when that happens, the White House’s top public health adviser said. He said such restrictions could go down in history this year.
“As we emerge from the full-fledged pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly on the verge of emerging from, these decisions will increasingly be made locally rather than centrally decided or mandated,” Fauci told the Financial Times. “There will also be more people making their own decisions about how they want to deal with the virus.”
Part of that optimism has been fueled by the steady decline in daily infections in the United States. The United States is reporting fewer than 200,000 COVID-19 cases a day for the first time since Christmas, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. The number of cases is now less than a quarter of the peak of the current omicron surge.
The United States, however, remains on track to reach 1 million COVID deaths in April.
Also in the news:
►Hundreds of people who received COVID-19 vaccine injections at a clinic in New Haven, Connecticut, will need another shot after health officials said vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine weren’t were not properly refrigerated.
► Mobile, Alabama, the city that dubs itself the “Birthplace of Mardi Gras,” kicked off its first Mardi Gras celebration since Fat Tuesday 2020, nearly two years after the pandemic began.
📈 The numbers of the day: The United States has had more than 77.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 919,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 410.8 million cases and over 5.8 million deaths. More than 213.7 million Americans — 64.4% — are fully immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
📘What we read: Mask on? Without a mask? Here’s what experts are saying as several states lift mask mandates amid falling case numbers and pandemic fatigue.
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Canada-US border blockades continue, protests grow
On Sunday, police swept away the lingering protest against COVID-19 restrictions near the huge Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Canada, arresting a few truckers and other protesters who were still trying to block the country’s largest border crossing. Police said the last vehicles were being towed away. It was not immediately clear when the bridge, closed by protests for a week, would reopen. The closure of the bridge severely hampered trade between the United States and Canada and prompted the auto industry to cut production in both countries.
“Enforcement will continue in the demonstration area and there will be zero tolerance for illegal activity,” police in Windsor, Ont., tweeted on Sunday. “The public should avoid the area.”
Vaccines for children under 5 delayed
Pfizer and BioNTech pressed the pause button Friday on the licensing process for its COVID-19 vaccine for younger children. The companies said in a statement that they want to wait until data is available on a third dose of the vaccine, likely in early April. They had initially said that this data would be available in late March or early April and that they would then seek permission. But under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, the companies submitted their data and sought approval for the first two doses, saying they could add a third in the future.
Friday’s news appears to reverse this and return to its prior position.
An FDA advisory committee was scheduled for Tuesday to review the application but was canceled. No new date has been set.
– Karen Weintraub, USA TODAY
Contribute: The Associated Press