WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — It’s been a year largely absent of social gatherings, but the nation’s top infectious disease expert is providing a glimmer of hope as vaccinations ramp up around the country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said at a press conference Monday that if you — and all your guests — are vaccinated, a dinner party should be relatively safe.
“Small gatherings in the home, I think you can clearly feel the relative risk is so low you wouldn’t have to wear the mask,” Fauci said. “You could have a good social gathering in the home.”
Fauci went on to clarify that a small get-together in one’s home is quite different from attending a large social gathering.
“The setting in a home of a small group of people having dinner together, all of whom are vaccinated, is very different when you step out the door and go into a society that has 70,000 new cases a day,” he said.
Fauci cited the recent statistic that the U.S. caseload is currently increasing by an average of 70,000 cases a day — down from recent months, but still worrisome.
More than 102 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed with more than 78.6 million doses administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. government authorized Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, making it the third to be available in the country following ones from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Both of those vaccines require two doses and need to be shipped frozen. The J&J vaccine can be shipped and stored at normal refrigerator temperatures.
In the same press conference, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said: “Now is not the time to relax critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”
She then warned of the potential for a fourth wave of cases in the U.S. saying, “We have the ability to stop that from happening if Americans continue to follow public health protocols, including masking, washing hands and social distancing.”
The U.S. has reported more than 28.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 515,000 deaths from the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.