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Fauci says US could have 'millions' of coronavirus cases and over 100,000 deaths

Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci quotes 'The Godfather' in response to latest Trump attacks Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas Trump's scorched earth style overshadows campaign's message in final weeks MORE, one of the faces of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force, on Sunday warned that the novel coronavirus could infect millions of people in the United States and account for more than 100,000 deaths. 

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Fauci said that, based on what he's seeing, the U.S. could experience between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from COVID-19. 

"We're going to have millions of cases," Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, noting that projections are subject to change, given that the disease's outbreak is "such a moving target."

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The novel coronavirus, which first appeared in China in December, has infected more than 124,000 people in the U.S. and accounted for more than 2,000 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The U.S. has reported the most confirmed cases of the virus worldwide.

The outbreak has upended everyday life, resulting in a mass closure of businesses and schools as federal and state officials enforce measures designed to slow the spread of the disease. The New York metropolitan area has been hit particularly hard, leading to concerns about a surge in patients overwhelming its health care system. 

Fauci has repeatedly called for social distancing requirements to remain in place for an extended period of time. He said Sunday that lifting those restrictions would depend on the availability of testing kits that will be able to confirm a diagnosis within about 15 minutes. 

"It’s going to be a matter of weeks. It’s not going to be tomorrow, and it’s certainly not going to be next week," he said. 

Fauci added that he wanted to to see a substantial flattening of the curve in terms of cases before curbing social distancing restrictions. 

"As I have said before, it's true the virus itself determines that timetable. You can try and influence that timetable by mitigating against the virus, but, ultimately, it's what the virus does," he said.