Dr. Anthony Fauci: Normalcy possible this summer — unless Americans slack off

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he is “optimistic” the U.S. can see normalcy by summer but warned the U.S. risks a European-style relapse if Americans give up on public health measures.

The National Institutes of Health official said Italy is heading into lockdown for a second Easter in a row because the continent lifted restrictions before reaching a safe baseline of transmission.

Young people, in particular, ditched their masks prematurely, Dr. Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“They had a diminution of cases,” he added: “They plateaued.”

Biden administration officials are worried about a similar plateau-and-surge after a sharp decline in cases this year flattened in late February. The rolling average of  U.S. cases is still above 50,000 per day — far better than the 250,000 per day in early January, but enough to spark another surge.

“We can avoid that if we continue to vaccinate people … without all of a sudden pulling back on public health measures,” Dr. Fauci said.

President Biden is upset about states that are lifting their statewide mask mandates and reopening businesses fully while the vaccine push continues.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said he tried to stake out a middle ground by lifting capacity restrictions on dining and other businesses while keeping mask and distancing rules in place.

“We took a balanced approach,” Mr. Hogan told CNN.

Dr. Fauci said he’s optimistic about July 4 gatherings that Mr. Biden touted as a benchmark for normalcy, though said he couldn’t detail what those parties might look like.

He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will put out updated guidance as more people are vaccinated.

The rules “will be much more liberal than they are right now about what you can do,” Dr. Fauci said.

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