It’s the question America keeps asking — when can we return to “normal”? It won’t take two years, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CBS This Morning, or even past the election. In fact, summer vacations could be back on, Fauci suggested, assuming Americans buckle down now to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vacations might look a bit different, but at least the beaches will be open. We could still save August …

Anger has been rising over the shutdown, some of it aimed explicitly at Fauci, and critics on the Right especially want to see Trump overrule him. However, Fauci has always been clear that there are competing legitimate interests in dealing with the nation’s health in the broadest sense, which includes the economy and social health as well as physical health. We can’t get back to a status quo ante “normal” until we have a reliable and widely available vaccine, but we can get a lot more normal-ish if we can bend these curves downward.

On Good Morning America, Fauci discusses the difficulty of using models in the early days of an unknown pandemic. The fact that the death projections are dropping comes from plugging better data into the models, not that the models themselves are faulty. The new projections offer a lot more optimism about restarting the economy at the end April, Fauci tells George Stephanopoulos, but the virus itself has to determine the guideline”:

Again, Fauci seems optimistic that May 1 could be the moment that we can “start to think about” taking steps toward normality. By May 1 or soon after, we should have much more widespread testing to keep an eye on potential new hot-spot eruptions that will allow other places to return to a more normal economy. We should also have manufactured enough PPE to keep hospitals supplied, and turn our attention to making more effective masks for the general public to use outside the house. Large indoor gatherings will probably still be discouraged, but outdoor venues like beaches might be reopened, with some social-distancing measures in place to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

It’ll be a slow rollout, and we’ll spend a few weeks dipping our toes in the water before finally wading out from the shore, but the data seems to show that the virus might recede enough not to make an immediate comeback or second wave. Fingers crossed!

Fauci even looks a little like Roy Scheider, right? Maybe we can even save July!