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The U.S. is heading in a positive direction in the pandemic as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations decline, said Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Vaccination rates, treatments, and prior infections will make the coronavirus more manageable in 2022, Fauci told the Financial Times. Broad mandates and mitigation protocols will begin to be lifted.
"As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated," he told the newspaper. "There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus."
The U.S. is reporting an average of 240,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, according to the data tracker from The New York Times. That's a 63% decline from the previous 2 weeks.
About 100,000 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That's also down 28% in the past 2 weeks.
At the same time, about 2,600 deaths are being reported each day, the newspaper reported, which is the highest level seen in the U.S. in a year.
Fauci said COVID-19 restrictions around the U.S. will end soon. He didn't give a specific timeline but said it was likely to happen in 2022.
Some states have already begun to lift pandemic rules as COVID-19 cases subside. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Oregon, and New Jersey announced on Monday that they would lift mask mandates for schools and other public spaces throughout February and March. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul dropped New York's mask mandate as well.
At the same time, Fauci stressed that the coronavirus won't be wiped out and people will have to learn to live with it. Health officials may soon reach an "equilibrium" where they don't need to monitor infection levels as closely, he said.
"I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the COVID restrictions will soon be a thing of the past," he said.
Financial Times: "'Full blown' pandemic phase of Covid nearly over in US, declares Fauci."
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Cite this: US Exiting 'Full-Blown Pandemic Phase' of COVID, Fauci Says - Medscape - Feb 09, 2022.