White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday he’s “not comfortable” with the level of COVID-19 cases in the United States as the nation enters its fall and winter seasons.
The U.S. is reporting roughly 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day, which may get even worse as temperatures get cooler and people head indoors, Fauci said during an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I’m not comfortable with that. I would like to see that level, way, way down, well below 10,000.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said some regions of the country are doing quite well while others are struggling.
“In certain regions of the country, like the Midwest the Northwest, and even now we’re starting to see a little difficulty in the Northeast in New York. Then you get concerned because it is more difficult to deal with respiratory borne virus, as people begin to go indoors more,” he said. “And if you start seeing upticks, the way we’re seeing it, and you have a baseline that’s 40,000 and stuck at 40,000, that’s not the optimal position to be in as you enter into the fall and winter.”
Health officials have repeatedly warned that they will need to battle two bad viruses circulating later this year as the COVID-19 outbreak runs into flu season. Last week, Vice President Mike Pence said that Americans should expect COVID-19 cases to rise “in the days ahead” as testing increases and some states show worrying coronavirus trends.
Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 45,200 new COVID-19 cases per day, up by about 8% compared with a week ago when the U.S. was reporting a seven-day average of just over 41,900 new cases a day, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
COVID-19 cases are growing by 5% or more, based on a weekly average to smooth out daily reporting, in 31 states as well as the District of Columbia as of Thursday, according to Hopkins data. Eleven states hit record highs in average daily new cases, Hopkins data shows.
Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota hit highs in average daily new deaths.
Fauci said Thursday that COVID-19 is “far more serious” than the seasonal flu, contradicting President Donald Trump who tweeted earlier this week that the coronavirus was “far less lethal” than influenza. Facebook and Twitter later took action on Trump’s post in an attempt to prevent the spread of misinformation.
While influenza can cause more complications for young children, there’s “no doubt” the impact of COVID-19 on the general population “is far more serious,” Fauci said.
“I have no doubt, no doubt at all,” he said.
“The only thing I can do is repeat what I repeat, maybe 20, 30 times a day,” he added. “That in order to avoid the acquisition and transmission of this virus, which is highly transmissible, you should have uniform wearing of masks, you should have physical distancing, you should avoid crowds, you should try and do things outdoors much more than indoors, and you should frequently wash your hands and to me that goes for any situation without exception.”
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