Coronavirus COVID-19

This story has been updated.

For the first time in nearly two and a half years, the United States is “not in the pandemic phase,” according to President Biden's Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci, who later clarified his comments to warn that the threat of COVID-19 in the U.S. is not over. 

Fauci made his initial comments in an interview with PBS on Tuesday, adding that when the global pandemic, which is still active, will end is “unanswerable.”

"We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase," Facui told PBS. "Namely, we don't have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.

"So, if you're saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don't believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we're not going to eradicate this virus."

Fauci said that intermittent vaccinations may be key to keeping infection numbers low, admitting that he didn't know how frequently those vaccination boosters may be needed and encouraged.

This major admission may come as a surprise to many people as much of the country, including Tennessee, has largely ignored the continued public health impacts of COVID-19 over the past year. 

Fauci's comments have not come without disagreement, with former White House medical advisor Dr. Jonathan Reiner expressing his continued concern over the pandemic in an interview with CNN.

"With all due respect to Dr. Fauci, I think we are still very much in a pandemic in this country," Reiner said.

On Wednesday, Fauci clarified his comments in an interview with the Associated Press, saying, "“We are in a different moment of the pandemic."

“We can’t take our foot off the pedal,” Fauci told the AP. “There’s a lot of viral dynamics throughout the world and we still may get another variant which could lead to another potential surge.”

The idea that the virus, regardless of a declared pandemic, will still be a threat to public health has been discussed in the past, with Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey telling reporters in Dec. 2021, "It’s exceedingly clear there’s not going to be a date in time where this goes away or where we don’t have to worry about this or work on this for quite some time in the future.”

In that news conference Piercey also addressed delay's in the state's reporting of COVID-19 cases and announced new reporting protocols by the state.

As of Wednesday, Tennessee reported in their weekly summary for the week of April 10-16, an increase of 314 Covid-19 cases, an increase of 12 deaths, a decrease of 6 hospitalizations and an increase of 6,135 tests per day last week. 

For the same period of time in Williamson County there were 132 cases, a dramatic shift from the height of the pandemic.

In total, the state reports that some 2 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in Tennessee since the beginning of the pandemic in Spring of 2020, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 26,000 Tennesseans.

Locally in Williamson County, the state reports more than 62,000 documented cases and more than 400 deaths since Spring 2020.

Nationally, some 81 million cases have been reported and some 990 thousand people have reportedly died of the virus since the pandemic began, while global numbers are estimated at 511 million and 6.23 million respectively.