NATIONWIDE — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that Americans should brace for a tough next few months in the fight against the coronavirus.
Speaking Thursday during a panel discussion with doctors from Harvard Medical School, Fauci said, “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he expects to see spikes in some cities related to Labor Day weekend gatherings. And there are other concerns as well, including the easing of social distancing restrictions and colder weather soon pushing Americans inside more, where the virus can spread more easily.
Earlier this week, Fauci told The Washington Post that he believes eight states are at high risk of seeing cases climb: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois.
As of Friday morning, the United States had recorded nearly 6.4 million coronavirus cases and nearly 192,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The number of new cases Thursday was 35,286, well below the 70,000-plus daily cases the country was seeing in July but still an “unacceptably high” number in Fauci’s eyes.
“We've got to get it down, I'd like to see it 10,000 or less, hopefully less,” Fauci said. “I keep looking at that curve and I get more depressed and more depressed about the fact that we never really get down to the baseline that I'd like," he said.
Fauci, who was one of the world’s leading AIDS researchers in the 1980s, compared the coronavirus pandemic to the early days of HIV, which ballooned from a few gay men to millions of deaths and infections decades later.
“We've been through this before,” he said. “Don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don't try and look at the rosy side of things."
Fauci’s comments came a day after excerpts from Bob Woodward’s book “Rage” were released revealing that President Donald Trump admitting to playing down to the public what we really knew about the coronavirus to avoid stirring panic.
Fauci did not mention Trump, but said there have been lessons learned since the start of the pandemic.
"We've really got to realize that from Day One, you don't know it all," he said. "And you've got to be flexible enough to change your recommendations, your guidelines, your policies, depending upon the information."
He added that U.S. vaccine trials are “progressing very well” and again predicted that one will likely be available by the end of this year or early 2021.
Fauci also spoke with actress Jennifer Garner on Instagram Live on Thursday. In that interview, he estimated that it would not be safe for audiences return to live theaters until nearly a year after a vaccine has been rolled out.