The United States needs to drive new COVID-19 cases downwards to under 10,000 per day by next month or risk a catastrophic situation in the fall, Dr Anthony Fauci says.
Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, said on Monday that coronavirus cases needed to decline rapidly in order to gain some control of the pandemic by the end of the year.
The US is currently averaging about 60,000 cases each day, bringing the total number of infections to more than 4.7 million.
‘The country continues to log 50,000 to 60,000 new cases a day, suggesting it is right in the middle of the first wave,’ Fauci told JAMA Network’s Dr Howard Bauchner.
‘If we don’t get them down then we’re going to have a really bad situation in the fall.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert in the US, said on Monday that coronavirus cases needed to decline rapidly in order to gain some control of the pandemic by the end of the year
The outbreak first struck the US back in March when New York and other Northeastern states saw a surge.
Infections were on the downward trajectory before spiking in Sunbelt states throughout June and July.
Fauci said when cases initially declined, it came down to a baseline of about 20,000.
He said even 20,000 new cases each day was ‘not a favorable baseline’.
‘We’ve got to get our arms around that and contain it as we enter the fall,’ he said of the recent surge in cases.
Fauci urged Americans to ‘show a degree of consistency’ when it comes to wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.
‘It’s not rocket science,’ he said.
He said unless people followed these countermeasures, ‘the virus, if left to its own devices, is going to keep resurging’.
His comments came as a former World Health Organization doctor who helped eradicated smallpox said the world would be fighting COVID-19 for at least the next four years as it moves from one hotspot to the next.
Dr Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist from California, told USA TODAY that the next few years would not be ‘all doom and gloom’ because effective vaccines will emerge.
‘We will still be chasing the virus four years from now. But it won’t be like (today),’ Brilliant said.
‘It will be like the smallpox eradication program. The polio eradication program. Having yellow fever in some countries and not in others.
‘We’re in for a bad and rocky ride.’
Currently, there are now 4.7 million coronavirus cases in the US and more than 155,000 Americans have died.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted in March that the pandemic could kill more than 81,000 people by July.
In its latest statement in mid-July, the IHME said its model now projects the death toll at more than 230,000 by November 1.
Fauci said when cases initially declined in May after striking mostly in the Northeast, cases came down to a baseline of about 20,000 He said even 20,000 new cases each day was ‘not a favorable baseline’
Dr Deborah Birx, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, warned on Sunday that the US had reached a new phase of the outbreak with infections ‘extraordinarily widespread’ in rural areas as well as cities.
As coronavirus cases continue to surge across much of the country, public health officials are trying to work with governors to tailor responses for each state.
‘We are in a new phase,’ Birx told CNN’s State of the Union. ‘What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread.’
Birx warned that people living in multi-generational households in an area that is experiencing an outbreak should wear masks inside the home to protect the elderly or those with underlying conditions.
She said federal officials have been working on individual reports for each state by examining community trends and hospital records.
‘Each of these responses have to be dramatically tailored,’ she said, adding that what she had witnessed visiting 14 states over the last three weeks gave her cause of concern.
‘As I traveled around the country, I saw all of America moving,’ Birx said. ‘If you have chosen to go on vacation into a hot spot, you really need to come back and protect those with comorbidities and assume you’re infected.’