Appearing on CNN's State of the Union, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned of the threat particularly to unvaccinated people as inoculation rates have stalled and the more contagious Delta variant looms.
"We're going in the wrong direction. If you look at the inflection of the curve of new cases and, as you said in the run-in to this interview, that it is among the unvaccinated," Fauci told host Jake Tapper. "And since we have 50% of the country is not fully vaccinated, that's a problem, particularly when you have a variant like Delta, which has this extraordinary characteristic of being able to spread very efficiently and very easily from person to person."
Just 49.1% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and 56.8% have received at least one dose, while 60% of people above the age of 18 have completed their vaccine regimen and 69% have received at least one dose, according to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CDC data also shows that the 7-day moving average of daily cases has risen to 40,246, a 46.7% increase over the previous 7-day average.
When asked about a model by the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub projecting that the United States could reach an average 4,000 deaths a day if vaccination rates do not improve, Fauci echoed comments previously made by CDC director Rachel Walensky that most of the deaths would likely be among unvaccinated people.
"So it really is -- as Dr. Walensky has said many times and I have said, it is really a pandemic among the unvaccinated," said Fauci. "So, this is an issue predominantly mong the unvaccinated, which is the reason why we're out there practically pleading with the unvaccinated people to go out there and get vaccinated."
Fauci added that he is in discussion with the Biden administration as it considers revising guidelines on mask-wearing for vaccinated individuals, however, he said he believes mask mandates for vaccinated people is a "local decision."
"I think what you're seeing, even though -- as of our conversation at this moment, the CDC still says and recommends that, if you are vaccinated fully, that you do not need to wear a mask indoors," Fauci said. "However, if you look at what's going on locally, in the trenches, in places like L.A. County, the local officials have the discretion, and the CDC agrees with that ability and discretion, capability, to say, you know, you're in a situation where we're having a lot of dynamics of infection, so, even if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask."