California, Texas and Arizona have emerged as new epicenters of the pandemic, each reporting record increases in COVID-19 cases, adding to pressure on scores of potential vaccines being rushed into trials. "I would not be surprised if we go up to to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned", he said at a Senate hearing, per the Washington Post.
As cases in many states continue to climb, infection rates in the Northeast have been declining, including in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and NY.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the United States is "going in the wrong direction" as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to climb across the country. "And so I am very concerned". States like Florida and Texas, which were among the last states to shutdown and the first states to reopen, risk progress made by states like NY and New Jersey, he said.
A daily surge in confirmed cases has been most pronounced in southern and western states that did not follow health officials' recommendations to wait for a steady decline in infections for two weeks before reopening their economies.
Citing video and news reports showing crowds gathering all over the U.S.as states begin reopening, Fauci says those who continue to gather without wearing a mask and ignore social distancing guidelines are putting themselves and others at risk. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about how many deaths and infections Americans should expect before the pandemic ends.
"We're going in the wrong direction if you look at the curves of the new cases", he said.
Even in states whose leadership was more cautious, Fauci said, there have still been examples of large groups congregating and disregarding critical public health measures.
"But it's something we need to keep our eye out on just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu", he said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the committee, said at the hearing that he personally urged President Donald Trump to wear a mask.
"I think the attitude of pushing back from authority and pushing back on scientific data is very concerning", he said.
President Trump, who refuses to wear a mask at public events and in the past has mocked his rivals for wearing them, has signalled he wants to move on from the coronavirus crisis and focus on his re-election campaign.
Dr Fauci warned on Monday that the USA is "unlikely" to develop herd immunity to the coronavirus even once a vaccine is available, which he earlier predicted could be available by early 2021. He warned community spread is more hard to contain than spread in single location like a prison or nursing home.