While expressing optimism over COVID-19 vaccine developments, White House coronavirus task force members on Sunday urged the public to continue practicing measures that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as they warned that infection rates are likely to surge in light of Thanksgiving-related travel.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 266,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 thus far.
On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Admiral Brett Giroir and Surgeon General Jerome Adams boosted confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccines that are under development by Pfizer and Moderna — which have preliminarily shown nearly 95% efficacy in trials — but made clear that the good news on vaccines isn’t something to fall back on in the meantime.
Here’s how members of the White House coronavirus task force urged the public to not let their guard down on coronavirus-related measures now that COVID-19 vaccines appear to be on the horizon:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
During an interview on “Meet the Press,” Fauci said we “almost certainly” will be vaccinating portions in the first priority of the population by the end of December.
However, Fauci reiterated that the country is heading into a “precarious situation” as holiday-related gatherings have only begun.
“We’re going to be faced with another situation, we’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family that we’re in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season,” Fauci said. “Because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation because we’re in the middle of a steep slope.”
Fauci described the development of COVID-19 vaccines as “light at the end of the tunnel” but urged Americans to “hang together as a country” to take measures needed to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We likely, almost certainly, are going to be vaccinating a portion of the individuals in the first priority before the end of December, and then as we get into January and February and March, more and more,” Fauci said. “So, if we can hang together as a country and do these kinds of things to blunt these surges until we get a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated, we can get through this. There really is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health
After saying that he believes there will be a “smooth, professional transition” for President-elect Joe Biden after formal meetings between the transition team and Operation Warp Speed last week “went extremely well,” Giroir touted that although a “lifesaving vaccine” is on the way — which he also described as “light at the end of the tunnel” — it’s more important than ever for the public to “do the right things.”
“This is a lifesaving vaccine. This puts the end to the pandemic. This is the way we get out of the pandemic. The light is at the end of the tunnel,” Giroir said. “But the American people have to do the right things until we get that vaccine widely distributed, wear a mask, avoid indoor crowded spaces, all the things you know.”
“We should have enough vaccine by the end of the year to immunize 20 million Americans and we have to immunize for impact,” says Adm. Brett Giroir, WH testing czar. "But the American people have to do the right things until we get that vaccine widely distributed" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/StNFeP28Pj
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) November 29, 2020
Surgeon General Jerome Adams
After saying that he anticipates that COVID-19 cases will “get worse over the next several weeks” due to Thanksgiving gatherings, Adams told Fox News that “there’s hope” with COVID-19 vaccines underway, but stressed the importance of taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the meantime.
“We are mere weeks away from starting to vaccinate the vulnerable and we can significantly protect people who are at risk for this virus,” Adams said. “So hang on just a little bit longer, understand that the science out there has never been stronger to support the wearing of masks.”