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US ‘certainly’ still in COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Fauci says

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on April 6, 2020, in the White House. (D. Myles Cullen/White House)
November 29, 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. is “certainly” still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that began nearly three years ago, even as cases and deaths are almost as low as they’ve ever been since March 2020.

Fauci, a top public health official who became a household name for his prominent role during the pandemic, made the remark Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

“I think you just need to look at the numbers,” he said. “We’re still having between three- and 400 deaths per day, so I think the idea that, ‘Forget it, this is over’ – it isn’t. We’re going into the winter right now. We have the wherewithal to mitigate against another surge. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Since the summer, weekly COVID deaths in the U.S. have hovered around 2,500 – which, over a seven-day week, breaks down to just over 357 deaths a day, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

That’s almost as low as deaths have ever been since the pandemic began. The lowest weekly total recorded since the pandemic’s first wave came during a deep lull in July 2021, with 1,678 deaths in a week – about 240 per day.

Fauci’s statement is the latest in a series of mixed signals from the government about the state of the pandemic as an increasing share of Americans puts it in the rearview mirror, as indicated by a recent Axios-Ipsos poll.

In April, as deaths were coming down from their second-highest peak, Fauci said that the U.S. was “out of the pandemic phase” and “transitioning” to a point where people can “learn how to live with the virus.” But after Biden declared in September that “the pandemic is over,” Fauci said still not enough people were vaccinated for society to coexist with the virus.

According to CDC data, 68.8 percent of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, and 12.1 percent has up-to-date boosters.

During his “Meet the Press” appearance Sunday, Fauci called the booster rate “frustrating,” adding, “We’ve got to do better than that.”