Story at a glance
- “We certainly are not where I hope we would be, we are in the middle of a very serious historic pandemic,” Fauci said.
- As outbreaks turn a corner in the Sun Belt, Fauci said he’s concerned about the uptick in positivity rates in several other parts of the country.
- Fauci did say, however, Americans have to think about returning to some sense of normalcy, urging regions where transmission is low to reopen schools.
The nation’s leading infectious disease expert and White House coronavirus task force adviser said on Thursday he is not pleased with the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. as the nation continues to lead the rest of the world in the number of cases and deaths.
“Bottom line is, I’m not pleased with how things are going,” Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an exclusive conversation with National Geographic.
“We certainly are not where I hope we would be, we are in the middle of very serious historic pandemic,” he added.
The public health expert noted that as Sun Belt states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are experiencing less coronavirus deaths, hospitalizations and cases, other parts of the country are seeing an uptick in the rate of tests that are coming back positive.
“When you look at other parts of the country - this is the thing that’s disturbing to me - is that we’re starting to see the inkling of the upticks in the percent of the tests that are positive,” Fauci said. “We know now, from sad past experience, that that’s a predictor that you’re going to have more surges."
Fauci previously warned about recent upticks in positivity rates in states like Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana.
He said Americans will need to become more unified about following public health guidance such as wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds and washing hands if the country is to get a hold on the outbreak.
“You can’t run away from the numbers of people who’ve died, the number of people [who] are getting hospitalized, the surges we’re seeing,” he said. “It’s going to depend on us.”
Fauci did say, however, Americans have to think about returning to some sense of normalcy.
“We live in a big country, and there are areas and regions of the country—the green zones as we call them—where the level of infection is low enough that you really should try very hard to get the children back to school,” he said, adding that regions where community transmission is high should cautiously consider whether to put kids back in school.
The U.S. currently has the worst outbreak in the world, with more than 5 million cases and more than 166,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.