Fauci says the plateau of COVID-19 cases in the US is unacceptable and warns against an 'on and off' reopening strategy

Fauci CBS March 7
Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke with CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. CBS
  • The US recently has averaged about 60,000 to 70,000 new coronavirus cases reported each day.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS on Sunday that this was "not an acceptable level."

  • Another surge in cases with levels already so high would be "risky," he said.

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The US COVID-19 case count is plateauing at "not an acceptable level," Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, warning against public-health measures being turned "on and off."

Fauci, the White House chief medical advisor, told CBS' Margaret Brennan that having another surge when cases were already at "quite a high level" would be "risky."

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's director warned last week that a fourth surge of cases could be coming in the US.

The number of coronavirus cases reported each day in the country had been sharply declining after peaking early this year. More recently, however, the country's seven-day average of daily reported cases leveled off between 60,000 and 70,000.

US new cases March 8
The US has seen its coronavirus case numbers plateau recently, according to Our World in Data. Our World in Data

In his interview, Fauci said European countries could provide a template for the US because their patterns were "usually a couple of weeks ahead of us."

Europe witnessed a 9% increase in cases in the past week after experiencing a plateau, Fauci said.

He also warned against coronavirus measures being switched "on and off," saying "it really would be risky to have yet again another surge, which we do not want to happen because we're plateauing at quite a high level."

The White House and the CDC have been clear they did not support some states' pulling back coronavirus restrictions in recent days without waiting for CDC recommendations.

Last week, Fauci called Texas' and Mississippi's decisions to lift their mask mandates "inexplicable," and President Joe Biden said the decisions were the result of "Neanderthal thinking."

In his Sunday interview, Fauci said the US needed to pull back coronavirus restrictions gradually as "we get more people vaccinated" and that the measures were not meant to be indefinite.

"We want the levels of virus very, very low, and then we will have much, much easier time to safely pull back and get the economy and all the other things that we want to be normal," he told "Face the Nation."

New guidelines from the CDC for vaccinated people had been expected last week but were ultimately delayed.

"Those guidelines are coming out from the CDC really imminently," Fauci said on Sunday. "I would imagine, within the next couple of days for sure."

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