Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. could soon see 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day if the current rate of infection continues.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the soaring number of new infections in several states, primarily Arizona, Florida and Texas, “puts the entire country at risk.”
“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day,” he said, while testifying at Senate hearings about COVID-19. “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned.”
On Friday, the U.S. hit a new single-day record of infections with 45,498, far surpassing the record from April of 36,738.
Fauci was responding to a question from Sen. Elizabeth Warren about what the likely U.S. death toll will be at the end of the pandemic. As of Tuesday, at least 126,161 Americans have died from the virus.
“I can't make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing,” he said. “I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable.”
In the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases have gone up 80 percent, according to The New York Times. The majority of cases are occurring in states that pushed to reopen businesses, restaurants and bars at the end of May, ahead of Memorial Day weekend, such as Florida and Texas. Both states have since decided to close bars again and have paused the rest of their plans to reopen other businesses.
Many of the states with spiking cases, such as California, Washington, Utah and North Carolina, have decided to enact mask requirements after resisting them earlier in the pandemic. States with mask requirements, like New York and New Jersey, are continuing to see new infections decline, even amid mass protests against police brutality.
During the Senate hearing, Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and chair of the Senate health committee, urged President Donald Trump to wear a mask in public to signal to Americans that they are effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“The president has plenty of admirers,” Alexander said in his opening remarks. “They would follow his lead, it would help end this political debate. The stakes are too high for this political debate about pro-Trump, anti-Trump to continue.”
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