In a Tuesday hearing with the Senate health committee, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is “very concerned” about the rise in coronavirus cases across the U.S., which has hit a rate of 40,000 new cases per day.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. “We’re going in the wrong direction.”
Fauci said he would “not be surprised” if new cases rise from current levels to 100,000 per day.
He pointed to large gatherings of people without masks as a particular point of concern, emphasizing that congregating at indoor bars is “bad news.”
Fauci held out hope that vaccines in development could stem the spread of Covid-19, while Dr. Robert Redfield, the director the CDC, said that the agency had spent months campaigning to fortify “vaccine confidence” to encourage Americans to take a vaccine, once one is proved safe and effective.
Schools should reopen based on “infection dynamics,” using CDC and community guidelines to assess how and if to do it safely, according to Fauci.
“It is going to be difficult with the flu and Covid this fall,” said Redfield.
“What we thought to be unimaginable is the reality we’re facing right now,” said Fauci in a closing remark.
70%. That’s the minimum portion of the population that would need to test positive for Covid-19 antibodies to achieve herd immunity, said Redfield during his testimony. Fauci pointed out that it remains unclear how long someone with antibodies remains immune to coronavirus, and that it will take “several months to a year” to answer this question.
Coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the South and West, with Florida and Texas emerging as viral hotbeds. Fauci said that the standard approach to containing the virus—testing, isolating and contact tracing—is not working, in part due to unwitting spread by asymptomatic people. On Friday, he spoke with the New York Times about a new approach that involves “pool testing,” where samples from large groups are collected to identify and isolated coronavirus-positive individuals.