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Published on January 1, 2021 8:49 AM

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Fauci predicts normal life won't return in U.S. before fall 2021
Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, predicted on Thursday that normal life would not resume for most Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic until as late as next fall.

That timeline, he warned, will be contingent upon the U.S. "efficiently, quickly and effectively" implementing vaccination programs that have thus far lagged behind schedule, as well as "a rather strict adherence" to personal mitigation measures such as hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing.

"It's going to take several months. ... It's not going to happen in the first few months," Fauci said in an interview on MSNBC. "If we do it correctly, hopefully, as we get into the end of the summer, the beginning of the fall of 2021, we can start to approach some degree of normality."

Fauci's remarks come as the Trump administration appears poised to miss its year-end target to vaccinate 20 million Americans. Roughly 12.4 million doses of vaccine have been delivered to the states, and about 2.7 million people have received the first of two shots, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, the U.S. outbreak has continued to worsen over the course of the winter season, as Americans spread the virus indoors and congregate in group settings to celebrate the holidays. More than 3,740 deaths were logged on Wednesday, another single-day record, and caseloads are expected to keep climbing rapidly through January.