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(NEXSTAR) – It’s been nearly a year devoid of large social gatherings, but there is a glimmer of hope for the vaccinated among us.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in a press conference Monday that if you — and all your guests — are vaccinated, a dinner gathering should be relatively safe.

“Small gatherings in the home, I think you can clearly feel the relative risk is so low you wouldn’t have to wear the mask,” Fauci said. “You could have a good social gathering in the home.”

But Fauci went on to clarify that a small get-together in one’s home is quite different from attending a large social gathering.

“The setting in a home of a small group of people having dinner together, all of whom are vaccinated, is very different when you step out the door and go into a society that has 70,000 new cases a day,” he said.

Fauci cited the recent statistic that the U.S. caseload is currently increasing by about 70,000 cases a day — down from recent months, but still worrisome.

In the same press conference, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said: “Now is not the time to relax critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close.”

She then warned of the potential for a fourth surge of cases in the U.S. saying, We have the ability to stop that from happening if Americans continue to follow public health protocols, including masking, washing hands and social distancing.

The U.S. has reported a more than 24,460,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Over 513,000 people in the country have died.