National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases chief Dr. Anthony Fauci on Aug. 1 signaled that the White House doesn’t want to reimplement COVID-19 lockdowns amid a surge in cases of the Delta variant, amid conflicting messaging from top administration officials in recent days.
There has been speculation that lockdowns and stay-at-home orders may be reimposed after President Joe Biden told reporters on July 30 that the United States “in all probability” will see more lockdowns. But a White House spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, said on the same day that U.S. officials don’t anticipate another lockdown on the horizon.
Speaking on ABC News’ “This Week” on Aug. 1, Fauci appeared to agree with Jean-Pierre’s assessment.
“I don’t think we’re going to see lockdowns. I think we have enough of the percentage of people in the country, not enough to crush the outbreak, but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter.”
Fauci, however, predicted “things are going to get worse,” claiming “an outbreak of the unvaccinated.”
“If you look at the acceleration of the number of cases, the seven-day average has gone up substantially. You know, what we really need to do, Jon, we say it over and over again, and it’s the truth, we have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated. We are seeing an outbreak of the unvaccinated,” said Fauci, who has essentially become one of the federal government’s main spokespersons amid the COVID-19 pandemic, having appeared on news outlets for hundreds of interviews in recent months.
Fauci, as in other interviews, made no mention of those who have developed a natural immunity to the virus.
During the past week, the White House has unveiled a number of new restrictions for federal employees around vaccines and has ramped up its rhetoric to get people vaccinated. Some large corporations including Disney and Walmart have mandated their corporate and nonunion workers to get the vaccine.
On Aug. 1, NIH Director Francis Collins suggested that businesses should require customers to get vaccinated.
“As a public health person who wants to see this pandemic end, yes. I think anything we can do to encourage reluctant folks to get vaccinated because they’ll want to be part of these public events, that’s a good thing,” he said on Aug. 1.
“I’m delighted to see employers like Disney and Walmart coming out and asking their staff to be vaccinated,” he said. “I’m glad to see the president has said all federal employees—I oversee NIH, with 40,000 people—need to get vaccinated or, if they’re not, to get regular testing, which is inconvenient.”
In France, meanwhile, thousands of people protested for a third consecutive weekend against the introduction of a mandatory health pass proving vaccination that will be required for entry to many public venues. There were also protests in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy over the past weekend against COVID-19 restrictions.