August 4, 2020

Fauci warns US could be in a 'really bad situation' if coronavirus isn't contained by next month

Daily Briefing

    Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Monday said if states seeing "insidious increase[s]" in their rates of new coronavirus cases do not quickly contain their outbreaks, the United States could be in a "really bad situation" as soon as next month, when the country typically sees the flu begin to spread.

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    US new coronavirus cases surpass 4.7M, deaths near 156K

    America's coronavirus epidemic hit a new peak in recent weeks, with officials reporting an average of nearly 65,000 new coronavirus cases per day—about double the average number of new cases the country had reported each day during the epidemic's previous peak in the spring. However, U.S. officials on Monday reported 47,832 new cases of the coronavirus—the smallest single-day increase in newly reported cases that the country has seen in nearly four weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    As of Tuesday morning, U.S. officials had reported a total of 4,725,100 cases of the novel coronavirus since the country's epidemic first began—up from 4,679,700 cases reported as of Monday morning.

    Data from the New York Times shows that Puerto Rico and 15 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases rise over the past 14 days: Alaska, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

    Data shows that coronavirus transmission appears to be slowing in some Southern and Western states that had been hot spots in recent weeks, including California and Florida, but transmission now appears to be accelerating in some Midwestern and Northeastern states. For example, the Washington Post reports that data from Missouri, Montana, and Oklahoma show the states each reported large spikes in their daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week. In addition, an analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University by the Journal found that Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey over the past week each experienced substantial surges in their daily numbers of newly reported cases.

    Meanwhile, the Times' data shows that the average daily numbers of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past two weeks remained mostly stable in Guam; Washington, D.C.; and 26 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    The U.S. Virgin Islands and nine states—Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah—saw their average daily numbers of newly confirmed cases decrease over the past 14 days, according to the Times' data.

    Growth in America's national coronavirus-related death rate also has been rising.

    According to the Times' data, Puerto Rico and 26 states saw their average daily numbers of newly reported deaths linked to the coronavirus rise over the past 14 days: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

    Overall, officials as of Tuesday morning had reported 155,935 U.S. deaths linked to the new coronavirus—up from 155,336 deaths reported as of Monday morning.

    Fauci: US could be in a 'really bad situation' if coronavirus is not contained soon

    During an interview on Monday with JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner, Fauci the United States could be in a "really bad situation" if the United States' daily number of new coronavirus cases does not decrease to 10,000 by September, when the flu typically begins to spread in the country and colder temperatures bring more people indoors—which could further accelerate coronavirus transmission.

    Several states—including Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Tennessee—are seeing an "insidious increase" in their rates of positive coronavirus tests, and they will likely see a spike in their numbers of newly reported cases in coming weeks, Fauci said, explaining that the coronavirus follows a "real and potential pattern" in which cases rise after the percentage of positive coronavirus tests increase.

    Fauci recommended that states experiencing spikes in coronavirus transmission consider suspending their plans to reopen businesses and relax other measures intended to curb the virus' spread. "You may need to pause" or " drop back a little bit," he said. However, he added, "I don't think you necessarily have to revert to going all the way back to closing."

    Fauci also said Americans need to "show a degree of consistency" in taking precautions to protect themselves against the coronavirus, including wearing face coverings and washing their hands.

    Trump says coronavirus epidemic is 'under control;' White House ramps up staff screenings

    Separately, President Trump during an "Axios on HBO" interview that was filmed last Tuesday said he believes America's coronavirus epidemic is "under control as much as you can control it."

    Trump acknowledged that Americans "are dying" from Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, but he said "that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can" to address the epidemic, including increasing ventilator production and ramping up coronavirus testing and treatment availability.

    Meanwhile, the White House on Monday notified staff in the Executive Office of the President that they will now be subject to "random mandatory" testing for the coronavirus, according to an email obtained by Politico that was sent to executive branch employees. The email states that the policy applies to officials who work inside the White House complex, but it includes limited exceptions for officials who have spent 30 days working remotely or who were on previously approved leave, Politico reports.

    A White House official on Monday said, "As part of our ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of the entire White House Complex, randomized testing of Executive Office of the President staff, which has been ongoing for several months, will become mandatory rather than voluntary."

    Separately, Trump in a campaign email sent Monday said people should consider wearing face coverings to help slow the coronavirus' spread, CNN reports. According to CNN, the email from Trump stated, "We are all in this together, and while I know there has been some confusion surrounding the usage of face masks, I think it's something we should all try to do when we are not able to be socially distanced from others."

    The move is notable because Trump had avoided wearing a face mask in public until recently, and mask-wearing has become a political issue over the past few months, CNN reports (Prang/De Avila, Wall Street Journal, 8/3; Gearan et al., Washington Post, 8/3; Reed, FierceHealthcare, 8/3; Coleman, The Hill, 8/3; Edwards, NBC News, 8/3; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 8/4; Orr, Politico, 8/3; Fernandez, Axios, 8/3; Kelly, CNN, 8/4; New York Times, 8/4).

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