Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told George Stephanopoulos that it would be better to focus on COVID hospitalizations going forward, rather than on case numbers that are skyrocketing.
“As you get further on and the infections become less severe, it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases,” Fauci said.
The omicron variant of COVID-19 now accounts for 95% of all new cases, according to the CDC, and has largely displaced the delta variant that had been prevalent before omicron presented itself.
From the information available so far, omicron seems to be more mild than previous variants. While daily new case rates have more than tripled in the last month, hospitalizations have only increased modestly, and deaths have actually fallen slightly over the same time period.
Fauci also agreed with new CDC guidance that reduced the quarantine period after testing positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to 5 days.
“The reason is that now that we have such an overwhelming volume of cases coming in, many of which are without symptoms, there’s the danger that this is going to have a really negative impact on our ability to really get society to function properly,” Fauci said Sunday on NewsNation’s “Morning in America.”
“The CDC made a decision to balance what’s good for public health at the same time as keeping the society running,” he continued, adding that the CDC “thought it out well” though the decision was not “100 percent risk-free.”
Fauci also said that guidelines could be further changed to require a negative test on day 5 to end isolation.
In addition, he encouraged people to wear masks for at least another five days in case they were still infectious and could transmit the disease to others.
“Let them go out with a mask being careful so that they can fulfill their job in society to keep society going smoothly,” he said.
Fauci pushes vaccines
Fauci also continued to push vaccines and booster shots as protecting against severe disease from omicron.
He made the point that a “fair number” of the “tens of millions of people” who were still not vaccinated could become severely ill with omicron, although it is not yet clear whether hospitalization rates are significantly higher for the unvaccinated with omicron.