Dr. Anthony Fauci blames gov’t for ‘mixed messages’ on COVID-19; New York City diners reopen

Sept. 30 (UPI) — The top infectious diseases expert in the United States said he’s concerned that some Americans are reticent to trust in vaccines and again blamed mixed messages from the federal government as a cause.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said during the Texas Tribune Festival on Tuesday that it’s “disturbing” a portion of the U.S. population is reluctant to believe in vaccine safety. He asked citizens to trust in the process and expressed optimism that a safe COVID-19 vaccine might be available before the end of the year.

“I feel cautiously optimistic, as a scientist, that we will have a safe and effective vaccine,” he said. “I believe it will happen, and it will happen likely by this end of the calendar year.”

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said “mixed messages that have come out of Washington” are at least partly responsible for Americans’ skepticism.

Fauci has previously criticized the Trump administration for sending mixed messages about a vaccine.

The United States added 42,200 cases and more than 900 deaths on Tuesday, according to updated data Wednesday from Johns Hopkins University. The death toll was the highest in several days.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 7.19 million cases and 206,000 coronavirus deaths in the United States.

In Wisconsin, officials are working to contain a surge in cases. The state reported its highest single-day death toll since May and health officials are warning of a looming shortage of hospital beds.

The state’s positivity rate is presently 22%.

“We are in a crisis right now,” said Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Wisconsin Department of Health. “The likelihood that this is going to get much worse before it gets better is a real one.”

With hospitalizations at a record high, health officials are reporting staffing shortages and warn that they may even have to set up field hospitals.

“We are nine months into this pandemic, and right now it’s not slowing down, it’s picking up speed,” Gov. Tony Evers said, lamenting some residents who are still “carrying on business as usual” and gathering in large groups.

Evers blamed Republican lawmakers for the situation and a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling in May that struck down most of his emergency health orders, including a directive for residents to stay home.

Evers also said repeated dismissive remarks by President Donald Trump and state Republicans have persuaded some residents to behave recklessly.

Trump is scheduled to hold campaign rallies in Green Bay and LaCrosse, Wis., on Saturday.

In New York City, indoor dining at restaurants were allowed Wednesday to reopen at 25% capacity,

The reopenings were approved earlier this month by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who praised residents for keeping the city’s positivity rate below 2%.

Reopening diners must undergo temperature checks and submit information for contact tracers. Bar service, however, is not allowed to reopen and masks must be worn by all visitors unless they’re seated at a table.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the milestone for restaurants but said said he will keep an eye out for signs of rising cases.

“We are going to watch that carefully, but bottom line is indoor dining will go forward,” he said.

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