Dr. Anthony Fauci recently put a damper on the recovery efforts taking place in many states across the country by suggesting that the United States will not return to normal until well into next year.
What did he say?
In a conversation with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Friday afternoon, the nation's leading infectious disease expert said "normality" will not be achieved until a vaccine for COVID-19 is first developed and then widely distributed. Fauci said he's confident a vaccine will be available by the end of this year or early 2021.
"By the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccine and get a majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not going to happen until the end of 2021," he said. "If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, towards the end of 2021."
The comments from Fauci come as many state and local municipalities across the country are beginning to ease lockdown measures and reopen venues such as movie theaters, gyms, salons, and restaurants for indoor dining, a reality that worries Fauci.
"Being indoors absolutely increases the risk [of transmission]," he said. "I am concerned when I see things starting indoors, and that becomes more compelling when you move into fall and winter season."
In the same interview, Fauci also poo-pooed a recent claim made by President Trump during a White House press briefing, in which the president said, "I really do believe we're rounding the corner" on the virus.
When asked by Mitchell to respond to Trump's remarks, Fauci, said, "I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with that because if you look at the thing that you just mentioned, the statistics, Andrea, they're disturbing. We're plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000."
In a news report, CNBC noted that "daily new cases in the U.S. have fallen substantially since new national cases peaked in late July, when the country reported nearly 70,000 new cases in a day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 35,200 new cases per day, down more than 12% compared with a week ago."
The exchange highlights the stark difference with which the two leaders relay information to the American people regarding the virus.
For example, this week Trump became embroiled in controversy after audio was released from discussions he had with journalist Bob Woodward in which the president acknowledged he downplayed the pandemic so as to not "create a panic."
In defending his words, Trump said he "had to show calm" in the face of hysteria surrounding the virus in the early days of the outbreak.
Fauci, to his credit, contradicted the claim made by some that Trump deceived the American people. The move was somewhat surprising since Fauci normally opts for a more worst-case-scenario outlook on the pandemic.