Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get "Back to Normal"

It can feel like there's no end in sight to the pandemic, with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations breaking records, and states scrambling to respond, issuing restrictions and local lockdowns. When will things ever get back to normal? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House coronavirus task force, has some idea. "People are worn out about this, but we've got to hang in there a bit longer, particularly as we get into the holiday seasons and the colder weather as we get into the late fall and early winter months, we've got to hang together on this because we can make it turn around," he told Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union this morning. "We really can." Read on to hear his projection about when we can get "back to normal," and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci Said When We Might Get "Back to Normal"

"So you've already encouraged Americans to consider canceling any Thanksgiving plans that involve visiting with somebody else or having visitors come," said Tapper. "I know a lot of Americans are looking ahead hoping to make plans for other holidays, such as Christmas, but when do you think Americans will next be able to safely gather together for family events like this? Are you suggesting it probably won't be able to happen until I don't know, Labor Day 2021, Thanksgiving 2021?"

"You know, it depends on a number of factors," answered Fauci. "For example, we have vaccines. Now the first one that came out was highly effective." He was referring to Pfizer's vaccine candidate, which was proven 90% effective in trials. "I anticipate that the second one"—from biotech company Moderna—"likely will be comparable. You never can tell until you see the data, but would be comparable. That's great, but we have to get people to take the vaccine."

Since many Americans are against vaccines, or may not trust this one, it may take a while to convince them. Distributing is also a large hurdle. But "if we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine and you have on the one hand, an effective vaccine, on the other hand, a high degree of uptake of the vaccine, we could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year"—meaning 2021—"where people can start thinking about doing things that were too dangerous just months ago, but we've got to put all those things together—we can't just wish it happening. We've got to get the vaccine, it's gotta be deployed and we can't abandon fundamental public health measures. You can approach a degree of normality while still doing some fundamental public health things that synergize with the vaccine to get us back to normal."

RELATED: Unhealthiest Habits on the Planet, According to Doctors

Normality Won't Come at the Flick of a "Light Switch," Fauci Warns

Fauci reiterated that normality wouldn't come at the flick of a switch. "If we get most of the country vaccinated in the second, third quarter of the year and the vaccine continues to prove its efficacy and people adhere to those fundamental measures, I think we can start approaching the degree—[but it] is not going to be a light switch, we're not going to turn it on and off going from where we are to completely normal. It's going to be a gradual accrual of more normality as the weeks and the months go by as we get well into 2021."

RELATED: This is the #1 Way You'll Get COVID, According to Doctors

How to Avoid Dying From COVID-19 Until Then

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, stay outdoors more than indoors, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.