Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned this week that the nation could see a surge of coronavirus cases and deaths in the coming months.
“The models tell us if we don’t do what we need to in the fall and winter, we could have 300,000-400,000 COVID-19 deaths,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a virtual event Tuesday, according to a tweet by The American University in Washington.
“We’re facing a resurgence of the wave we began with,” he said.
Fauci made the remarks during a wide-ranging conversation with Sylvia Burwell, president of the university, during a Zoom livestream event for students and their families during virtual Family Week, the university said in a statement.
“The big topic that we’re all discussing right now is that we’re now at the point where we’re going to be entering into the fall and the winter seasons. If you look carefully at the country, you see that there are certain sections—states, cities, towns, counties—where you have the uptick in test positivity, which is a very good predictor of a surge of cases,” Fauci said, according to a transcript of selected questions and answers posted by the university.
“As a nation we need to double down with the fundamental public health practices we know work, the universal use of masks, the distancing, the avoiding of crowds, doing things outdoors as much as we possibly can and washing of hands,” Fauci told Burwell, a former US secretary of health and human services. “We’re really faced with a challenge. It’s in our hands. Are we going to do it?”
The closely watched model of the University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts the United States will reach a death toll of more than 360,000 by the end of the year.
The United States had tallied more than 211,000 coronavirus deaths as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
Other experts have also been sounding the alarm about where the nation is headed. Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina tweeted Wednesday that if the United States doesn’t get the coronavirus under control now, it is headed for a “perfect and terrible storm.”
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Wednesday in an opinion piece in Scientific American, “A third peak of COVID-19 may be underway in the Upper Midwest, especially in Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. I am worried that a fall surge will be devastating.”
Noting the IHME model’s dire prediction, Hotez said, “An ‘autumn reset’ promoting the use of masks, contact tracing and social distancing could still save 100,000 lives. This must be our highest national priority.”
Martin finucane can be reached at [email protected]