Although nearly 30 states are reporting downward trends in coronavirus cases, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the nation not to let its collective guard down during the ongoing pandemic with the arrival of the flu season.
“We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Thursday during a panel of doctors from Harvard Medical School, NBC News reported.
The illness has claimed more than 190,000 lives in the US, which has had more than 6 million confirmed cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
But those are just the infections that have been recorded, so the actual number could be far greater. Many may have been infected without knowing, as the CDC projects about 40 percent of people don’t show any symptoms despite having the bug, CNN reported.
On Thursday, New York state marked the 34th straight day with an infection rate below 1 percent. The number of cases statewide stood at almost 442,000, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The top US infectious diseases expert also mentioned the possibility of post-Labor Day surges, noting that as one region of the country brings it under control, another hot spot emerges — especially in states were social distancing restrictions are lifted.
“It’s really quite frankly depressing to see that because you know what’s ahead,” Fauci said.
Fauci — one of the world’s leading AIDS researchers — compared the outbreak to the early days of HIV when the epidemic started with a few gay men to decades later with tens of millions of deaths and more than 70 million infected.
“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.”
Dr. Anthony FauciErin Scott/Pool via Getty Images
Fauci also said vaccine trials are “progressing very well” as he repeated his cautious optimism for a possible inoculation by the end of the year.
And when asked about the likelihood of a second wave of COVID-19, Fauci said, “I don’t talk about second surges because we’re still in the first surge.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, urged people to get tested after the holiday weekend if they socialized closely, according to CNN.
According to an ensemble forecast from the CDC, between 205,000 and 217,000 people in the US will die by Oct. 3.