What do you think? Leave a respectful comment.

WATCH: White House COVID-19 response team holds briefing

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci is calling the United States’ approaching milestone of half a million deaths from the coronavirus as “terribly historic” and stressed the need for continuing public health measures.

Watch the briefing in the player above.

Fauci says with virus infections overall going down and vaccinations continuing things are improving but that the U.S. remains in a “terrible situation” and people should remain mindful of wearing masks and keeping social distance.

Currently there are over 497,000 deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S.

Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said he expects a “significant degree of normality” in everyday life toward the end of the year but that it was “possible” people will still need to be wearing masks into 2022.

He says ultimately it will depend on the trajectory of COVID-19 variants as well as whether an “overwhelming majority” of people get vaccinated. Fauci says he wants to see infections get to a “very, very low” baseline before backing off recommendations to wear a mask, when the risk of exposure to someone with COVID-19 has become minimal.

Fauci spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”