BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Americans better get used to wearing masks and practicing social distancing for another year, Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a virtual discussion with Maryland doctors Thursday.

Fauci’s comments came during a 30-minute discussion between Fauci and GBMC HealthCare System President and CEO John Chessare marking the health system’s 55th anniversary.

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The event, which happened before news broke that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump contracted the virus, covered a number of topics, ranging from herd immunity to a coronavirus vaccine and the upcoming flu season.

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After saying it’s unclear what percentage of the population would need to either be infected with the virus or receive a vaccine in order for herd immunity to be effective, the infectious disease expert said this:

“Let’s assume its 75% of the population protected either from already being infected and/or having a vaccine. I think by the time we get there, it’s going to be well into the end of this year before that occurs, so I don’t think people are going to be able to get rid of the masks and not worry about social distancing and avoiding crowds until we get into the third quarter or fourth quarter of 2021.”

Fauci also said after a year, things could be “close to normal,” assuming there’s a cycle of people getting vaccinated and the vaccine is effective.

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Still, people won’t be able to throw caution to the wind, he warned. The public assuming they can do whatever they want once a vaccine hits the market would be “very dangerous,” Fauci stressed.


Based on current projections, vaccines could be available to vaccine high-risk populations and health care workers in late 2020, with more quantities being available into 2021.

“Bottom line: we could begin vaccinating people before the end of this calendar year,” Fauci said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff