November 2, 2020

Fauci: Without an 'abrupt change,' America is facing 'a whole lot of hurt' from coronavirus

Daily Briefing

    Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, on Friday warned that the United States is "in for a whole lot of hurt" if the current trajectory of the country's coronavirus epidemic persists, as the country reported a record of nearly 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day.

    4 actions to take before the next Covid-19 surge (and resources to help)

    US reports nearly 100K new coronavirus cases in a single day, setting global record

    U.S. officials as of Monday morning reported about 9,282,400 cases of the novel coronavirus since the epidemic began, up from about 9,023,800 cases reported as of Friday morning.

    On Friday, U.S. officials reported nearly 100,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus, setting a global record for the highest number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day since the epidemic began. The count exceeded the United States' previous single-day record of more than 90,000 newly reported cases, which the country had recorded on Oct. 29. According to the New York Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 82,829—which is up by 45% when compared with the average from two weeks ago.

    As of Monday morning, data from the Times showed that the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying high" in Guam, Puerto Rico, and 40 states that have had a daily average of at least 15 newly reported cases per 100,000 people over the past week. Those states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Texas on Saturday surpassed California as the U.S. state that has reported the most coronavirus cases since America's epidemic began. As of Saturday, California had reported a total of 931,740 cases of the novel coronavirus since the epidemic began, while Texas had reported 931,750 cases, the Houston Chronicle reports.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Virgin Islands; Washington, D.C.; and eight states that have had comparatively low case rates were seeing those rates "going up" as of Monday morning, according to the Times. Those states are California, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

    In Hawaii and Louisiana, rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were "staying low" as of Monday morning, according to the Times' analysis.

    During a private call with governors on Friday, Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the White House's coronavirus task force, said at least 1,200 U.S. counties, which represent a full third of the country, now qualify as hot spots of coronavirus transmission, the Times reports.

    The United States also has reported a daily average of about 800 new deaths tied to the coronavirus over the past week, according to the Times. U.S. officials as of Monday morning reported a total of about 230,937 U.S. deaths linked to the virus since the country's epidemic began, up from about 228,701 deaths reported as of Friday morning.

    And hospitalizations for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, also are rising, the Times reports. As of Friday, more than 46,600 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized for treatment, representing a 25% increase over the past two weeks, according to data from The Atlantic's COVID Tracking Project.

    Fauci says US could be 'in for a whole lot of hurt'

    During an interview late Friday with the Washington Post, Fauci said the United States is "not [in] a good situation" and is "in for a whole lot of hurt" if current trends in the epidemic continue.

    "All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly," Fauci said.

    According to Fauci, the United States in the coming weeks could begin to report more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and see coronavirus-linked deaths rise sharply. To prevent that, Fauci said Americans must make an "abrupt change" in their public health practices and behaviors to curb the coronavirus's transmission.

    When asked about the differences between the approaches touted by President Trump, who is running as the Republican Party's candidate for president, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is running as the Democratic Party's candidate for president, to address America's coronavirus epidemic, Fauci said Biden's campaign "is taking it seriously from a public health perspective," while the Trump administration is "looking at it from a different perspective" that is focused on "the economy and reopening the country." Fauci added, "[T]he public health aspect of the [White House's coronavirus task force] has diminished greatly."

    For example, Fauci said that early in the epidemic, he and Birx—who at one point met with Trump nearly every day—would agree on a message to share with Trump, but "[a]ll of a sudden, they didn't like what the message was because it wasn't what they wanted to do anymore." Fauci continued, "And because of that," he and Birx "almost never ever" see Trump now. " The only medical person who sees [Trump] on a regular basis is Scott Atlas," a neuroradiologist and a special advisor to Trump on the coronavirus.

    But Fauci said he has "real problems" with Atlas. "He's a smart guy who's talking about things that I believe he doesn't have any real insight or knowledge or experience in," Fauci said. "He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn't make any sense."

    Overall, Fauci said he and other public health officials feel that they need "to try to get the message out" on what Americans should be doing to stop the coronavirus's spread.

    Trump admin criticizes Fauci's comments

    Trump administration officials were quick to criticize Fauci's remarks.

    In a statement given to the Post on Saturday, Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, said Fauci "knows the risks [from the coronavirus] today are dramatically lower than they were only a few months ago."

    Deere also accused Fauci of "play[ing] politics" ahead of the presidential election. "It's unacceptable and breaking with all norms for … Fauci, a senior member of the President's Coronavirus Task Force and someone who has praised … Trump's actions throughout this pandemic, to choose three days before an election to play politics. As a member of the Task Force, … Fauci has a duty to express concerns or push for a change in strategy, but he's not done that, instead choosing to criticize [Trump] in the media," Deere said.

    According to the Post, White House spokespeople did not provide comments from neither Atlas nor Birx (New York Times, 11/1; Allday/Moench, Houston Chronicle, 10/31; Dawsey/Abutaleb, Washington Post, 10/31; Victor, New York Times, 11/1; New York Times, 11/2).

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