Fleetwood-Jourdain Artistic Director Tim Rhoze

The one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic came last week with a renewed sense of optimism as three different, highly efficacious vaccines are being administered throughout the U.S.

But the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned on March 14, “We are not in the end zone yet.”

In an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Dr. Fauci cited the lockdown that will be imposed today in Italy, as new variants cause coronavirus cases to surge there.

“The best way that we can avoid any threat of variants is, do two things. Get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can, and continue with the public health measures until we get this broad umbrella of protection over society that the level of infection is very low…Viruses don’t mutate unless they replicate,” said Dr. Fauci.

He said that the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has plateaued at a level as high as 60,000 cases a day in recent weeks. “That is a very vulnerable time to have a surge…”

President Biden in his speech on March 11 asked all Americans to do their part to mitigate COVID-19 transmission. He announced that earlier the same day he had signed into law the American Rescue Plan, which provides government assistance to help speed up vaccinations and safely reopen schools, support small businesses, and deliver immediate relief to millions of American families and workers.

“We need everyone to get vaccinated, We need everyone to keep washing their hands, stay social distanced, and keep wearing the mask as recommended by the CDC. Because even if we devote every resource we have, beating this virus and getting back to normal depends on national unity. … Unity is what we do together as fellow Americans,” said the president.

His speech also marked the 50th day of the Biden-Harris administration. Before taking office, in his first joint interview with then Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, he said, “The first day I’m inaugurated, I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask.”

Dr. Saad Omer, Associate Dean of Global Health Research, Yale School of Medicine, said in a CNN interview on Sunday that the renewed lockdown in Italy is a wakeup call.

“We cannot take it for granted that the rates of infections and deaths are coming down. It does not mean that it will be a permanent state…Even now, there are 1,500 people dying every day. We are not in the clear right now…Things are getting better. Recommendations are going in the direction of easing up on some of these restrictions. But I think it’s a matter of doing it responsibly and gradually,” said Dr. Omer.

From now until April 30, the RoundTable will continue to feature a “Masked Person of the Day.” Please send photos of yourself, your family or friends wearing a mask to editor@evanstonroundtable.com. Include a brief description if you wish.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.