Fauci: State of US coronavirus outbreak ‘really not good’

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Monday that the state of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States is “really not good” and that action is needed to stop the resurgence. 

New cases per day in the U.S. have now climbed to about 50,000, which Fauci, speaking in an online chat hosted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), linked to some states and cities reopening their economies too aggressively. 

“A series of circumstances associated with various states and cities trying to open up in the sense of getting back to some form of normality has led to a situation where we now have record-breaking cases,” Fauci said in the chat with NIH Director Francis Collins. 

Fauci said part of the problem is the U.S. never got the virus down to a low level before the most recent surge.

“We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this,” he said. 

“It was a surge or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline, Francis, that really never got down to where we wanted to go,” he said. 

He also compared the U.S. unfavorably with Europe, which was able to better suppress the virus after an initial spike. The comments contrast those made by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who on Monday said, “I think the world is looking at us as a leader in COVID-19,” citing a lower mortality rate than Europe. 

“If you look at the graphs from Europe, Europe, the European Union as an entity, it went up and then came down to baseline. Now they’re having little blips, as you might expect, as they try to reopen,” Fauci said. “We went up, never came down to baseline, and now we’re surging back up, so it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”

As the new cases shift toward younger people, some of whom are flocking to bars and other places that spread the virus, Fauci urged them not to think of themselves as invincible and warned they could spread it to others. 

He said all people should wash their hands, avoid crowds, stay six feet apart and wear masks when that is not possible. 

“Young people should not feel that they’re invulnerable to serious consequences. The more we learn about this disease, Francis, the more we realize that many young people may not necessarily get sick enough to go to the hospital, but they can get very sick, put them out of action for weeks at a time,” Fauci said. 

There is also the risk to more vulnerable people. 

“By getting infected, they are propagating the outbreak,” he said. “They could infect someone who’d infect someone, and then all of a sudden someone’s grandmother, grandfather or aunt who’s getting chemotherapy for breast cancer gets infected.” 

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