Fauci, who is also a member of President Biden’s Covid-19 task force, linked the rise in cases to the increased prevalence of more contagious variants of the virus, of which there are multiple—including strains from the U.K., South Africa and Brazil—making their way across the country.
But while the variants are “playing a part” in boosting case numbers, “it is not completely the variants,” Fauci said, identifying the second factor as a relaxing of protocols aimed at curbing the virus’s spread.
“What we’re likely seeing is because of spring break and pulling back on the mitigation methods you’ve seen now,” said the infectious diseases expert, pointing specifically to the states that have rolled back all restrictions (including mask mandates).
Fauci labeled the easing of restrictions “premature,” noting that countries are “really in danger” of a surge following a plateau, like the one the U.S. has experienced through the month of March.
“That’s what we’re starting to see,” Fauci said. “And that’s why we really say it’s almost a race between getting people vaccinated and this peak.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it is “deeply concerned” about the way the U.S.’s numbers are trending. The seven-day rolling average of new Covid-19 cases has increased by 11% over the past two weeks, with over 77,000 new confirmed cases reported on Friday and more than two dozen states trending in the wrong direction. However, hospitalizations and deaths are still down, and the 7-day average of new deaths has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since November.
34.3%. That’s how much of the U.S.’s eligible population, 16 and older, has received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. President Biden has set a new goal of administering 200 vaccinations within his first 100 days in office after passing the original goal post of 100 million doses in nearly half that time.