Dr. Fauci Is Cautiously Optimistic That We're 'Beginning' To Flatten The Curve

by Cassandra Stone
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci
Win McNamee/Getty

Dr. Fauci also explained what our ‘new normal’ might look like until the virus is contained

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, believes social distancing efforts may be paying off, as he thinks we’re seeing the “beginning” of the flattening of the curve with the coronavirus outbreak — but that “the virus” itself is what will determine when our period of self-isolation will actually end.

It’s still imperative that we remain diligent in our efforts to practice social distancing properly, Fauci cautioned viewers on TODAY this morning. Co-host Savannah Guthrie questioned the doctor if our lives will resume some semblance of normalcy by summer — a question on the minds of many Americans who have vacation hopes.

“I hope that’s the case, Savannah,” Fauci said, but he reminded us that the virus “determines the timetable.”

During a news briefing on Monday of this week, Fauci said we must be realistic about the dangers of the virus, which will still present a very real threat to the health of Americans everywhere even after we slowly assimilate back to public life.

“If ‘back to normal’ means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population,” Fauci said at the briefing. “But when we say getting back to normal, we mean something very different from what we’re going through right now. Because right now, we’re in a very intense mitigation.”

During his interview with Guthrie, Dr. Fauci said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that the U.S. may soon start to see a “turnaround and that curve not only flatten, but coming down.”

That doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods once that happens, however. “When we attempt to get back to normal, we have to have in place the ability, when it starts to try and rear its ugly head, we can absolutely suppress it by identification, isolation, contact tracing,” he said.

Antibody tests may soon be more widely available than the actual COVID-19 tests. These blood tests can help determine how many people were previously infected with COVID-19 but were asymptomatic. Antibody blood tests can also help show whether those who have been infected are immune from contracting the virus again.

When Guthrie asked him if he believes it’s a realistic possibility that all Americans could eventually be tested for COVID-19, Dr. Fauci expressed his doubts. But, he does feel that the antibody tests could help Americans return to a more normal life while a vaccine is being developed. “I think something akin to what you’re saying is possible,” he added.

Certainly not the “normal” we’re sure many people are expecting to return to, but hearing something this “cautiously optimistic” out of Dr. Fauci is heartening.