National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci says there is ‘no doubt’ we will see new coronavirus cases as the country reopens.
Watch the briefing in the player above.
“If as we open up the country economically and otherwise, if we have the capability to implement well when new cases occur, which they will,” said Fauci during an interview Tuesday with The Economic Club of Washington D.C.
“As you try and relax mitigation, if we have the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing in a highly effective and efficient way, then the numbers will stay low. It may be 80,000, whatever 70,000 like the model says.”
This comes as the Trump administration unveiled a “blueprint” for states to scale up their testing in the coming week – a tacit admission, despite public statements to the contrary, that testing capacity and availability over the past two months have been lacking.
The new testing targets would ensure states had enough COVID-19 tests available to sample at least 2.6% of their populations each month – a figure already met by a majority of states.
Areas that have been harder hit by the virus would be able to test at double that rate, or higher, the White House said.
The initial COVID-19 test developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was contaminated, and early kits operated only on platforms able to perform a small number of tests per day.
While the rate of testing increased as tests developed for higher-capacity platforms, they were still limited by shortages of supplies, from nasal swabs to the reagents used to process the samples.
The CDC moved to address one of those concerns Monday, expanding the list of people to be prioritized for virus testing to include those who show no symptoms but are in high-risk settings like nursing homes.
And President Donald Trump met with leaders of businesses including CVS, Walmart and Kroger, who said they were working to expand access to tests across the country.
“It’s not going to disappear from the planet,” said Fauci. “It’s inevitable that we will have a return of the virus. Or maybe it never even went away. When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate. If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well. If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and could lead to death.