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After an excruciating 26 months since COVID-19 first shut down the nation, the United States is no longer in a pandemic.
In an interview with PBS on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that the country “out of the pandemic phase”.
“We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase,” Fauci said. “Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.”
The news comes as the US is averaging roughly 50,000 daily new cases of the virus. That number is down from the more than 1.4 million cases reported on January 10th alone.
Average deaths from COVID are also steadily declining. The country recorded 305 deaths from the virus on Tuesday, down from nearly 4,000 in early February amid the Omicron surge.
Mask mandates and vaccine requirements have lifted in most cities and states across the country. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Florida also struck down the mask requirement on federal transit.
Fauci: Pandemic phase may be over, but COVID is not
The welcome news of the pandemic’s end in the US comes against a backdrop of a grim and staggering toll.
Since recording the first deaths from the virus on March 2, 2020, nearly one million Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Millions more were hospitalized as the virus infected over 80 million people nationwide.
The latest data shows that more than 11,000 people are currently hospitalized with the virus.
Dr. Fauci cautioned that, while the pandemic is over, the virus is not gone.
“I don’t believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we’re not going to eradicate this virus,” Fauci said.
The chief medical advisor to President Biden said keeping virus levels low requires “intermittent” vaccination.
“[Vaccinations] might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low.”
Roughly 1/3 of eligible Americans remain unvaccinated.