Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the recent days of surging coronavirus cases reflected a “very disturbing week” for the United States.
“Right now, if you look at the number of cases, it’s quite disturbing,” Fauci said during a livestream with the American Medical Association. “We’re setting records, practically every day, of new cases in the numbers that are reported. That clearly is not the right direction.”
His comments come amid a series of trouble records amid the ongoing pandemic. Daily cases skyrocketed past 50,000 in the U.S. for the first time this week, and only 14 states are showing declines in the rate of infections. At least six states showed single-day records on Thursday, and the situation has grown so dire that some Republicans who have long resisted safety measures, such as requiring masks, have reversed course.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) reversed his own stance on Thursday, making face masks mandatory in most areas of the state just a day after health officials said over 8,000 more people had tested positive for COVID-19.
Fauci said Thursday that such figures made it “pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction.”
“We have areas of the country where they were at a level that is difficult and disturbing,” the doctor said. “Then when one tries to open up, even in situations where governors and mayors were trying to abide by the guidelines… that there is this, among some, there’s this feeling of an all-or-none phenomenon where you’re either under lockdown or say, you know, the devil may care.
Fauci went on to say when bars and restaurants reopened with limited social distancing, it was “highly predictable that you’re going to get into trouble.”
Earlier this week, at a Senate committee hearing, Fauci warned that the U.S. could reach 100,000 cases per day if states that are seeing cases surge don’t take stronger measures to rein in infections.
“I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing, I can guarantee you that,” Fauci told Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday. “Because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they’re doing well, they are vulnerable.”
Despite the bleak infection rates, Fauci urged Americans to continue to follow public health advice before the pandemic grows even more dire across the country.
“We are all in this together. There’s no blame here,” he said. “We need to realize that if we do not adhere to the guidelines, we are going to be in some serious difficulty.”
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