On Tuesday, top infectious disease expert at the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dr. Anthony Fauci, testified in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that COVID-19 cases could increase to 100,000 a day if the nation doesn’t follow safety guidelines.
“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. 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.”
The US has recorded more than 40,000 daily COVID-19 cases for the past five days. This marks the highest number since the coronavirus pandemic first took hold of the nation.
Fauci also stated that the country “clearly” didn’t have the pandemic under control.
“I am not satisfied with what’s going on because we are going in the wrong direction if you look at the curves of the new cases, so we’ve really got to do something about that and we need to do it quickly. Clearly we are not in total control right now.”
Thirty-four states are seeing an increase in their number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 50% of the new cases being recorded in four states – Arizona, Texas, Florida and California.
On Tuesday, Arizona reported 2,228 cases and Florida 6,093 cases. Texas and California reported 7,959 cases and 7,906 cases respectively, marking their highest daily case count to date.
Fauci explained that he attributed the surge of cases to states reopening “too quickly” and ignoring federal guidelines that would have ensured a safer process.
“What we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable, and we know many young people are not because they’re getting serious disease, that therefore they’re getting infected has nothing at all to do with anyone else, when in fact it does.”
Many states, including the four Fauci listed, have now started to reimpose restrictions or halt reopening plans.
Arizona was one of the first states to roll back many of its social distancing guidelines in May. However, on Monday, Republican Governor Doug Ducey ordered the state to once again, close down its bars, movie theaters and gyms. Texas, California and Florida have also begun closing public areas such as bars and beaches.
In the hearing, Fauci also clarified that he couldn’t make an accurate prediction on the number of cases and deaths the US would witness as the pandemic continues to progress. However, he warned that the entire country was at risk and not just the states that were seeing their cases rise again.
“I can’t make an accurate prediction,” Fauci stated when asked about the number of cases the US would see in the future, “but it is going to be very disturbing, 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 are doing well, they are vulnerable.”
Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander opened the hearing by recommending that President Donald Trump wear a mask to tackle the political debate over the health recommendation.
He stated, “This simple lifesaving practice has become part of the political debate that says this: ‘If you’re for Trump, you don’t wear a mask. If you’re against Trump, you do.’”
“That’s why I’ve suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, even though in most cases it’s not necessary for him to do so.”
He added, “The president has plenty of admirers. They would follow his lead.”
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield, stressed during the hearing that younger people also need to take the responsibility of mask-wearing.
“It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of Covid-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings. Specifically, I’m addressing the younger members of our society, the Millennials and the Generation Zs – I ask those that are listening to spread the word.”
Fauci also said that he would support US production and free distribution of high quality masks for the public.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, also testified that the FDA is assisting vaccine developers in the approval process for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I am pleased to announce that today, FDA is taking action to aid the timely development of a safe and effective vaccine to prevent COVID-19 by providing guidance for developers, with recommendations on the data needed to facilitate manufacturing, clinical development and approval. We will not cut corners in our decision making.”
Hahn further explained, “This is particularly as important as we know that some people are skeptical of vaccine development efforts. Public confidence in vaccines is so important.”
Before his Tuesday testimony, on June 23, Fauci testified at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic where he said, “we’re now seeing a disturbing surge of infections.”
“We’re going to be doing more testing, not less,” Fauci further added in response to Trump’s June 20 Oklahoma rally claim where the president told his administration to slow down testing efforts to curb the number of COVID-19 cases reported.
Meanwhile, at a June 29 news briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the Trump administration is equipped to handle the increasing number of cases adding that the administration is encouraged by the declining death rates and more effective treatments.
“These things make us uniquely equipped to handle the increase in cases that we’ve seen.”
Have a tip or story? Get in touch with our reporters at [email protected]