Fauci said that recent images of Americans gathering in bars or other crowds foreshadow a greater spike in infections that “is going to be very disturbing … We’re going to continue to be in a lot of trouble, and there’s going to be a lot of hurt if that does not go away.”
Fauci gave his bleak assessment in response to questions during his latest appearance on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the state of the pandemic as new infections are rampant across much of the South and West, with hospitalizations escalating in a dozen states.
He and other top health officials acknowledge that the nation’s public health system was ill prepared for a major infectious disease outbreak, as the Republican chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee called on President Trump to start heeding federal guidance to wear a mask in public.
“Unfortunately, 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,” said the chaiman, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.). “That’s why I’ve suggested that the president occasionally wear a mask, even though in most case it’s not necessary for him to do so. The president has plenty of admires. They would follow his lead.”
The rare rebuke from a senator of the president’s own political party attests to a disturbing reality for GOP politicians that the pandemic has veered lately from primarily Democratic-leaning states to red parts of the United States.
The hearing took place as Republican governors of newly hard hit states, including Texas and Florida, have been rescinding reopening plans in the face of surging cases of he virus that has killed at least 124,000 people in the U.S. since February.
Last weekend, the U.S. had a record daily number of confirmed new cases — 44,792. That is 30 percent higher than the peak of 34,203 on April 25, the peak day in the original surge of covid cases this spring.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Fauci initially declined to directly answer a question by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about how many deaths and infections Americans should expect before the pandemic ends. “It’s going to be very disturbing,” Fauci replied. “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’re doing well, they are vulnerable … It puts the entire country at risk.”
Then Fauci added, “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.”
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