The United States reported its COVID-19 death toll crossed the staggering half-million mark on Monday, nearly a year after the novel coronavirus pandemic upended the nation.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, on Sunday told CNN, "it's nothing like we've ever been through in the last 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic... It really is a terrible situation that we've been through. And that we're still going through."
Case rates in the U.S. have declined markedly to their lowest levels since the Thanksgiving holidays.
But Fauci told CNN, "We want to get that baseline really, really, really low before we start thinking that we're out of the woods."
He said Americans may still need to wear masks in 2022. At the same time, prevention measures are being relaxed again, new variants of the virus are emerging, and just 15 percent of the U.S. has so far received a vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control on Sunday reported a little over sixty million Americans have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 19 million have received a second dose.
President Joe Biden last week said he was confident the U.S. would have hundreds of millions of doses by summer.
"We will have ordered, much of which will have been distributed, over six hundred million doses by the end of July, July twenty ninth is the expected date. But I believe we'll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year, and God willing, this Christmas will be different than last."
More than 28 million COVID cases have rocked the United States.
The virus took a full year off the average nation's life expectancy, the biggest decline since World War Two.