Are we turning corner against COVID-19?

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 1,246 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Monday, with 34 deaths.

Video Transcript

TANJA BABICH: This morning, 13 months since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the US. We are close to surpassing 500,000 deaths from the virus. There are signs of hope, though, that the crisis is finally coming to an end. We're joined again this morning by infectious disease expert, Dr. Robert Citronberg, from Advocate Aurora Health. Good morning, sir.

ROBERT CITRONBERG: Good morning, Tanja and Terrell.

TANJA BABICH: More people are getting the COVID vaccine than ever before. And in Illinois, our positivity rate has dropped significantly. We're right around the 3.4%, 3.2% right now. Do you think we've turned a corner in the pandemic?

ROBERT CITRONBERG: Well, in a word, yes, we have, with an asterisk. And the asterisk is that the next few months should be really good. What we're concerned about are two things. One, how many people choose to get back, and two, what's going to happen next fall and winter. Remember the vaccine is-- or the virus is primarily a wintertime virus. So the next few months look really promising, actually, assuming that people continue to get vaccinated the rate that they are.

TERRELL BROWN: So-- so based on what you're seeing and what you just said, doctor, what's your message to people right now at this point in the pandemic?

ROBERT CITRONBERG: Get vaccinated. There is more and more evidence that this vaccine prevents-- not only prevents severe illness, but also prevents transmission of the virus. There's some really good evidence from Israel where they started the vaccine campaign early. I just saw some data from the UK today that these vaccines really work and there's no reason not to get vaccinated. The more people who get vaccinated, the sooner we achieve herd immunity as a population, the sooner the pandemic ends.

TANJA BABICH: Even with vaccination, we're hearing from Dr. Anthony Fauci, he said yesterday, it is possible Americans will still need to wear masks into the year 2022. What are your thoughts on that?

ROBERT CITRONBERG: It's possible in certain segments of the population, particularly indoor activities. I think for outdoor activities, it's going to be less likely. Indoor activities, particularly crowd-- more crowded venues, whether it's sporting events or theaters, yeah, I think there's a really good possibility, especially because we're going to be dealing with a potential surge in infection next-- next fall and winter. But for the most part, I think we should be able to see some relaxation of these guidelines by the end of this year, and we're very hopeful for that.

TERRELL BROWN: All sounds promising, doctor. Good to see you. Appreciate it. Thank you.

ROBERT CITRONBERG: Thank you.