For the first time since July, the White House’s coronavirus task force delivered a briefing on Thursday as cases reach record levels throughout the US.
President Donald Trump did not participate in Thursday's news briefing. The president has not had any public events this week.
The coronavirus task force encouraged Americans to remain vigilant and practice social distancing guidelines as the virus spreads throughout the US.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said that the “cavalry is coming.” He said recent developments of a pair of vaccines showing an effectiveness of 95% should give Americans confidence to get a vaccine once they become available.
“The process of the speed did not compromise at all the safety nor did it compromised the scientific integrity,” Fauci said. “It was a reflection of extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allowed us to do things in months that actually took years before but I really want to settle that concern that people have about that.”
While the tone from the White House coronavirus task force was against lockdowns, states across the country have reimplemented some shutdowns of and limits to businesses. Notably, much of California will go under a curfew nightly from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
"We will be getting vaccine doses to people who are high priority at the end of December," Fauci said. "We aren't talking about shutting down the country. We are talking about locking down. We are talking about simple public health measures that we all talked about mask wearing, distancing, avoiding congregate settings, doing things to the extent that we can outdoors versus indoors and if we do that we'll be able to hold things off until the vaccine comes."
Vice President Mike Pence says that the US will have 100 million doses of a vaccine ready to begin distribution as soon as an emergency use authorization is granted. General Gustave Perna, who is leading the government's distribution efforts of a vaccine said that when an emergency use authorization is given, the first doses of a vaccine will be distributed within 24 hours.
Pfizer says its vaccine candidate could seek emergency use authorization from the FDA as soon as Friday.
Distribution will be a challenge as the leading coronavirus vaccines have to be stored at extremely cold conditions.
Perna said that the federal government is working with states on setting up places for a vaccine to be availble. The vaccines can be distributed from hospitals down to a local Walgreens or CVS.
"We will distribute the vaccine accordingly," Perna said. "We want the vaccines at the places where the American people are comfortable; at our hospitals, our doctors offices, CVS, Walgreens and the health care facilities, places where people are comfortable going. That's where we started"
Thursday’s briefing comes on the same day that the CDC urged Americans not to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday and asked Americans to only celebrate the holiday with those in their household.
Earlier this week, task force member Dr. Scott Atlas criticized public health experts for advising Americans not to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. Atlas’ stance is an outlier among experts.
On Wednesday, the number of coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic passed 250,000 in the United States. On Wednesday alone, more than 1,800 deaths were reported throughout the US, marking the most in a single day since the spring.