Top health official Fauci says coronavirus outbreak ‘going to get worse’


Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the president’s task force on coronavirus, said Wednesday that the outbreak in the U.S. is only “going to get worse.”

Fauci testified in front of the House Oversight and Reform Committee about the current state of the outbreak in the U.S., where more than 1,000 people are battling the illness and at least 31 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“Bottom line, it’s going to get worse,” Fauci said during the hearing. “The flu has a mortality of 0.1 percent. This [virus] has a mortality of 10 times that.”

Fauci’s comments echoed those of other top health officials this week.

“People should know this is likely going to get worse before it gets better,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

More city centers in the U.S. are experiencing significant outbreaks of the virus, as it becomes more difficult to contain and trace the disease.

“Whenever you have an outbreak that you can start seeing community spread, which means by definition that you don’t know what the index case is – and the way you can approach it is by contact-tracing. When you have enough of that, then it becomes a situation where you’re not going to be able to effectively and efficiently contain it,” Fauci said Wednesday.

Fauci has listed Washington state, California, New York and Florida as places where community spread risks are higher.

“How much worse we get will depend on our ability to do two things: To contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country,” the top health official said.

Fauci said Tuesday that communities should “do real mitigation sometime before you think you really need it,” such as canceling large events or gatherings where the virus could quickly spread.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced on Wednesday that events with over 250 people would be canceled to reduce further spread of the virus.

For now, experts say mitigation is the best communities can do, with U.S. health officials estimating a potential vaccine could be at least 12 to 18 months away.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced guidance warnings to people over 60 years old and those with existing health conditions to avoid crowded places and unnecessary travel and to stock up on supplies.

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