Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Monday the status of the coronavirus pandemic in the US is “really not good” as new cases surge across the country.
“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this. And I would say, this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline,” Fauci said in Facebook Live interview with National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.
“The European Union as an entity, it went up and then came down to baseline,” he continued. “Now they’re having little blips, as you might expect, as they try to reopen. We went up, never came down to baseline, and now it’s surging back up. So it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”
His comments come as coronavirus cases continue to soar in the US — with at least 32 states reporting higher rates of new cases this week compared to the last, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Nearly 3 million Americans have been infected with the virus and more than 129,000 have died.
Fauci on Monday pointed to “a series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up” too early as a key factor in the virus’ surge and emphasized the US “should use the public health effort as a vehicle and a pathway to get to safe reopening.”
“So we’ve got to make sure that we don’t create this binary type thing of ‘it’s us against them,'” he said of public health efforts and the US economy.
“It’s not. We’re all in it together.”
Fauci’s assessment builds on the stark warning he issued to lawmakers on Capitol Hill last week, telling them he wouldn’t be surprised if the US sees new cases of coronavirus rising to a level of 100,000 a day.
“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around and so I am very concerned,” Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
He specifically expressed dismay over people congregating in crowds and not wearing masks and inadequate attention being paid to guidelines on reopening.
“We’re going to continue to be in a lot of trouble,” he said. “And there’s going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop.”