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'Pandemic Phase' Over for US, but COVID-19 Still Here, Fauci Says


FILE - Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks about the omicron coronavirus variant during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Dec. 1, 2021.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has given an upbeat assessment of the current state of the coronavirus in the United States, saying the country is "out of the pandemic phase" with regard to new infections, hospitalizations and deaths, and that it appears to be making a transition to COVID-19 becoming an endemic disease — occurring regularly in certain areas.

Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, said on the PBS NewsHour on Tuesday that the coronavirus remains a pandemic for much of the world. The threat is not over for the United States, he said, adding that he was speaking about the worst phase of the pandemic.

"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," he said.

In comments Wednesday to The Washington Post, however, Fauci seemed to clarify his earlier remarks, saying that unlike the "full-blown, explosive pandemic phase" during the brutal winter omicron surge, he was describing what appears to be a period of transition toward COVID-19 becoming an endemic disease.

"The world is still in a pandemic. There's no doubt about that. Don't anybody get any misinterpretation of that. We are still experiencing a pandemic," Fauci told the Post.

His comments came as health authorities wrestle with how to keep COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations manageable and learn to live with what's still a mutating and unpredictable virus.

The Biden administration has stressed that the nation has more tools — vaccinations, booster shots and medications — to better handle infections than earlier in the pandemic.

U.S. cases are far lower than they were in recent months. But health officials are keeping a close eye as highly contagious variants continue to spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cases have risen about 25% in the past week.

As of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the U.S. has recorded more than 81 million cases and more than 992,000 deaths.

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