WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day in the U.S. if Americans don’t start following public health recommendations.
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The nation’s leading infectious disease expert made the remark at a Senate hearing on reopening schools and workplaces.
Asked to forecast the outcome of recent surges in some states, Fauci said he can’t make an accurate prediction but believes it will be “very disturbing.”
“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” said Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.
Fauci said areas seeing recent outbreaks are putting the entire nation at risk, including areas that have made progress in reducing COVID-19 cases. He cited recent video footage of people socializing in crowds, often without masks, and otherwise ignoring safety guidelines.
Leaders in several states implemented new shutdowns and ordered residents to wear masks in public in a dramatic course reversal amid an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases nationwide.
Among those implementing the face-covering orders is the city of Jacksonville, Florida, where mask-averse President Donald Trump plans to accept the Republican nomination in August. Trump has refused to wear a mask during visits to states and businesses that require them.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey shut down bars, movie theaters, gyms and water parks Monday. The order went into effect immediately and for at least 30 days. Ducey also ordered public schools to delay the start of classes until at least Aug. 17. Most Arizona bars and nightclubs opened after the governor’s stay-at-home and business closure orders were allowed to expire in mid-May.
Arizona health officials reported 3,858 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday, the most reported in a single day in the state so far and the seventh time in the past 10 days that daily cases surpassed the 3,000 mark. Since the pandemic began, 74,500 cases and 1,588 deaths stemming from the virus have been reported in Arizona.
The state is not alone in its reversal. Places such as Texas, Florida and California are backtracking, closing beaches and bars in some cases amid a resurgence of the virus.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that he’s postponing the restarting of indoor dining because people have not been wearing face masks or complying with recommendations for social distancing. New Jersey has been slowly reopening, and on Monday indoor shopping malls were cleared to start business again.
Democratic governors in Oregon and Kansas said Monday that they would require people to wear masks, too.