With coronavirus cases rising across the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the country is facing “a whole lot of trouble” but that there are “simple things” Americans can do to mitigate the spread of the novel virus as the cold weather sets in.
In an interview with CNBC on Monday about the country’s current baseline of infections “that vary between 40 and 50 thousand per day,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert said that the situation is “a bad place to be when you’re going into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter.”
As temperatures drop across the U.S., people spending more time indoors could create a “perfect setup for an acceleration of respiratory borne diseases,” said Fauci.
However, he noted that five things “could certainly turn around the spikes that we see and can prevent new spikes from occurring”:
- Avoiding crowds
- Spending time outdoors
- Frequent hand-washing
- Maintaining social distance
- Universal mask use
According to CNBC’s analysis, the seven-day average of new cases has risen 14% compared to a week ago, and average daily cases are up by more than 5% in 36 states and Washington, D.C. The analysis is based on data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“We’re in a bad place now. We’ve got to turn this around,” said Fauci about the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. He noted that certain parts of the country, like the Midwest and the Northwest, are also seeing an increase in test-positivity rate, or the percentage of test that come back positive, which “is always a predictor of more cases, and ultimately more hospitalizations, and ultimately more death,” he said.
Fauci also addressed the recent controversy surrounding a Donald Trump campaign ad in which he appeared to praise the Trump administration's response to the public health crisis, but was actually taken out of context. The quote, which was lifted from a March interview, was “from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials,” he told NBC News.
In the CNBC interview, he said that despite “things that are going on that you would prefer did not happen, like the ad, which put me in a political context which I’ve spent my entire career staying out of political contexts,” he is “certainly not going to give up.”
“This is too important a problem,” said Fauci about the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve devoted my entire professional life to fighting infectious diseases. This is an outbreak of historic proportions the likes of which we have not seen in 102 years. There’s no chance that I’m going to give on up this and walk away, no matter what happens.”