Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – As many states across the country continue to break daily COVID-19 records, a glimmer of hope from the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. could start getting back to “normal” next year. As early as April, Meredith Wood has a closer look at the key factors that may impact that timeline.

Getting back to normal as early as April 2021? That’s the hopeful assessment coming from Doctor Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Help is coming and that should motivate people to say we are going to double-down and do this uniformly.”

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Doctor Fauci says when we can gather again freely depends on a number of factors.

Fauci pointed to the manufacturer Pfizer’s announcement that its early data shows its vaccine is more than 90-percent effective, and a second company is expected to unveil its own early results soon.

“I think that if we get most of the country vaccinated in the second, third quarter of the year, and the vaccine continues to prove its efficacy and people adhere to those fundamental measures, i think we can start approaching by degree. It’s not going to be a light switch,” said Fauci.

Meanwhile, The U.S. has surpassed 10-point-9 million, COVID-19 cases and 245-thousand deaths, as many states continue to break daily records.

Gov. of Ohio, Mike Dewine, said,”A month ago, we had one thousand people in our hospital in Ohio. A week ago, just a week ago we had two thousand and now we have three thousand.”

Even before we reach next April, the death toll from the pandemic could be devastating. An influential COVID-19 model projects the U.S. death toll may reach 439-thousand by March.

Health experts and lawmakers are urging people to stay vigilant and continue to follow public health measures.

Dewine said, “We could see the end of this. We just have to tough it out a few more months and do what we need to do to get through this.”

I’m Meredith Wood reporting.