As President Joe Biden expressed optimism that the US is quickly getting the population vaccinated, he joined public health experts in warning that it’s still too early to loosen social distancing guidelines.
In recent weeks, COVID-19 cases have leveled off after a surge in deaths, hospitalizations and cases following the holidays. With a number of states loosening pandemic protocols, there are concerns that the virus is outpacing vaccinations.
"The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight, Think we're at the finish line already. Let me be deadly earnest with you, we aren't at the finish line,” Biden said.
As of Tuesday, 19% of Americans are fully vaccinated and 32% are partially vaccinated. Getting to herd immunity, based on various estimates, will require getting at least 70% of the population fully vaccinated.
"As I said before, we can have a safe, happy 4th of July with your family and your friends and small groups in your backyard,” Biden said. “The real question is how much death, disease, and misery are we going to see between now and then."
Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Press Club on Tuesday that doing activities like flying are low risk for those who are vaccinated, but he recommends against travel until a majority of people are fully vaccinated.
"You know up until we get a substantial proportion, a majority at least of people vaccinated, and the level of infection goes very, very low,” Fauci said.
Although many Republican-led states have abandoned nearly all pandemic protocols, Democratic governors have also been loosening guidelines. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that pandemic-related protocols other than mandatory face coverings in indoor public places will be dropped on June 15.
“We will be moving past the dimmer switch and will be getting rid of the blueprint that you know today,” Newsom said.