PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The nation’s top infectious disease expert said New Jersey has made enough progress to weather a possible second wave of the coronavirus.
During a Facebook Live session with Gov. Phil Murphy Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said because New Jersey clamped down on coronavirus restrictions early in the pandemic, the state is in a good position heading into the fall and winter.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases praised New Jersey’s early response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The good news and the thing that makes me very pleased and encouraged about New Jersey is that, notwithstanding that you got hit pretty badly, right now if you continue to carefully and prudently open the economy, you can get through the fall and the winter,” Fauci said.
He said unlike other parts of the nation, New Jersey’s restrictions have led to a relatively low baseline of community COVID-19 spread.
“There are some areas that have a high baseline already. They’re going to have a real problem when they go into the winter,” Fauci said. “You are starting off from a good point.”
Murphy has said he’s considering expanding indoor dining from 25% to 50% capacity if there’s a sustained period without spikes in COVID-19 cases.
Fauci said he expected a vaccine would emerge from trials as safe and effective by November or December, but that most people wouldn’t get it until well into next year. He also cautioned that a vaccine won’t create a quick return to normal life.
“That is assuming that the vaccine is 100% protective and 100% of the people take the vaccine,” Fauci said. “That’s not going to happen.”
Fauci said social distancing and masks will remain necessary for the foreseeable future.
“Put aside this divisiveness nonsense where it’s like, if you wear a mask you’re on this side of the political spectrum,” Fauci said. “If you don’t wear a mask, that is so destructive. We are all in this together. And we’re going to end it together. And when we end it, then you can get back to your normal life. But you’ve got to end it first.”