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Dr. Fauci: Americans could possibly need to wear masks into 2022

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the death toll caused by COVID-19 is something we haven't seen for well over a hundred years since the 1918 pandemic.

The nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made some encouraging yet cautious projections Sunday, while still urging Americans to stay vigilant about virus mitigation behaviors as localities try and vaccinate as many people as possible.

One prediction stood out. On CNN, Fauci said that he could see Americans still needing to wear masks going into 2022, yet stressed that we can expect to see a significant improvement in normalcy by the end of 2021.

Fauci said of virus levels and vaccinating the public, "when it goes way down and the overwhelming majority of people in the population are vaccinated, then I would feel comfortable saying ... we don't need to have masks," he said. 

The U.S. faces a pandemic death toll that is approaching 500,000 lives lost, close to a full year after the pandemic battle in the United States began. 

Dr. Fauci said Sunday on NBC, “Half a million deaths. It’s just -- it’s terrible. It is historic. We haven’t seen anything even close to this for well over a hundred years since the 1918 pandemic of influenza.”  

"As we get into the fall and the winter, by the end of the year, I agree with (President Biden) completely that we will be approaching a degree of normality," Dr. Fauci said. 

“If you combine getting most of the people in the country vaccinated with getting the level of virus in the community very, very low, then I believe we’ll be able to say for the most part we don’t necessarily have to wear masks,” said Fauci.

Vaccinating Americans is going to play a huge role in moving to the next stage in the pandemic fight, after community spread mitigation efforts like mask mandates. Supplies of vaccines and distribution efforts have hit major challenges across the country.  

On Fox News Sunday, Fauci said "by July we will in-hand enough vaccine to be able to vaccinate virtually anybody and everybody. It will be 600 million doses for 300 million people.”

As Fauci also mentioned Sunday, the winter storms in Texas and the crisis the state has experienced in recent days played a part in delaying 6 million vaccines from being distributed across the state. Dr. Fauci said the White House expects for those vaccine distributions to be back on track by the middle of next week. 

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