On Friday night, The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert was finally able to realize a dream he’s had for a year: welcoming Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, onto the program (virtually, of course).
“I’ve wanted to have you on for a year. We’ve tried to have you on every week for a year. We couldn’t ever get ya,” said Colbert. “Around January 20, your schedule really opened up. What changed?”
“Everything!” exclaimed Dr. Fauci.
Yes, while former President Trump is vacationing in Mar-a-Lago and trying to take more than his fair share of the credit for the rapid production of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, President Biden has taken what Dr. Fauci characterized as “a full-court press to get more vaccine available.” Around 2 million people have been vaccinated a day, and the process has been going so well Biden says that by May 1 all adults in the U.S. will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Fauci mainly chalked this up to the improved coordination between federal and state governments under President Biden.
“In every aspect of the endeavor, Stephen, is that before, earlier in the previous administration, a lot of discretion, a lot of authority, a lot of decision-making was left to the states themselves… but what we have more now is a cooperation, collaboration, and a synergy between the federal government and the states to get things done,” explained Dr. Fauci. “I have always felt, throughout the previous year, that there should have been more interaction in terms of synergizing.”
Colbert proceeded to ask Dr. Fauci when things would get back to normal, and he responded that we could start to see scaled-down audiences taking in various forms of entertainment by the fall. But for the time being, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases urged Americans to keep wearing a mask and social-distancing until the infection numbers go down—even if you’ve already been vaccinated.
“Right now, even though the cases are coming down at a very sharp decline, over the past couple of weeks it’s started to plateau a bit, and if it plateaus, it’s plateauing at an unacceptably high level—about 50-60,000 new infections per day,” said Dr. Fauci. “And every time we’ve seen a plateau at that level, there’s always been a risk of getting another surge. What we don’t want to do is get another surge. We want to keep it coming down.”