Friday may be Christmas Day, but in Lafayette, Thursday has taken on a new significance, at least this year, beyond being the Night Before Christmas.
Thursday has been proclaimed “Dr. Anthony Fauci Day” in this Central Contra Costa city. It’s an honor Lafayette City Councilman Cameron Burks bestowed personally-but-virtually during a seven-minute video chat Tuesday with Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the national face of the fight against the novel coronavirus. Thursday is also Fauci’s 80th birthday.
“We’d be honored to do that for you,” Burks told Fauci. The doctor responded humbly, with a smile, “Thank you, I appreciate that, and I will accept that honor, thank you.” Lafayette will mail a proclamation to Fauci’s home.
Burks told Fauci he is proud of Lafayette residents’ near-universal adherence to the basics of COVID-19 prevention (face coverings, social distancing, washing hands, avoiding crowds and social gatherings).
“I just think we’ve done a fantastic job, and I’m proud of the people who live here,” Burks said.
Fauci answered, “I understand that … you people in Lafayette have really tried very hard in adhering to the public health principles that I’ve been speaking about for months and months.”
Fauci told Burks the entire nation has been hit hard by COVID-19, especially recently, with new cases, hospitalizations and deaths “skyrocketing” in California and beyond.
Fauci implored Lafayette residents, and others, to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, likely in the spring. He described the vaccine as “the light at the end of the tunnel that’s going to get brighter and brighter.”
Assuming between 70 and 85 percent of Americans get vaccinated by mid-2021, Fauci said, the spread of COVID-19 should be effectively controlled, even if it isn’t known how long the vaccine will protect someone. It likely isn’t a “lifetime” vaccine, as those for measles are, he said.
In the meantime, Fauci implored everyone to remain steadfast in abiding by the aforementioned prevention basics, even though he acknowledged “COVID fatigue” — people’s overall weariness from and frustration with the virus and everything connected with it — is real.
“I’m here to tell you, please keep it up, you’ve done a very, very good job of keeping your community safe to the extent that you can.”