The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is likely to release new guidelines on reopening classrooms across America for in-person learning “before the end of this week,” White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told “Special Report” Monday.
“I think it would be important, rather than trying to get different opinions of it, let’s see what the guidance shows and then we could all discuss about the various aspects of the guidance,” Fauci told host Bret Baier. “But it will be coming out, I’m almost certain, before the end of the week.”
Earlier in the program, Fauci reiterated that while he considers teachers “essential personnel” and “it would be important to get them vaccinated”, “there are situations where you likely can still get children back to school, provided you do it in a safe environment, vis-à-vis masking and other public health measures.”
With two vaccines in the process of being distributed and a third, from Johnson & Johnson, likely to become available in the coming weeks, Fauci told Baier that the U.S. is seeing “a plateauing and a coming down of numbers of [new] cases, [a] rather significant diminution. We hope we continue to go in that direction.
“That’s the good news,” Fauci added. “The somewhat challenging news is that we have variants, namely mutations, that have occurred that were dominant in places like the U.K. that are now here in the United States. And … the data that we get from our British colleagues is that this virus tends to transmit more readily from person to person, which means that we’re going to have to double down on our public health measures.
However, Fauci said, early studes have shown “the vaccine that we have that we’re distributing now, even though the supply has not yet completely met the demand, the vaccine is effective against that variant that is predominant in the U.K. So we have a task ahead of us. We’ve got to do two things simultaneously. We’ve got to adhere to the public health measures: Masking, physical distancing, avoiding congregate settings.
“At the same time, to the extent possible, we get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can. That will help contain the outbreak and also help to contain the spread of these variants, which are of concern here in the United States and in other countries.”
When Baier asked Fauci to say when he believed Americans could go to a concert, theatrical performance or sporting event without masks, Fauci responded: “If we can get — and I have used this as an estimate, it’s not definitive — if we can get 70-85% of the population vaccinated and get to what we would hope would be a degree of herd immunity, which really is an umbrella or a veil of protection against the community where the level of virus is so low it’s not a threat at all, then at that point you could start thinking in terms of not having to have a uniform wearing of masks, but we’re certainly not near there yet.”
“If everything falls into the right place and we get this under control, it is conceivable that you might be able to pull back a bit on some of the public health measures as we get into the late fall of this year,” he added “But there’s no guarantee of that.”