The United States “faces big problems” as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country in the cold winter months, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told CNBC on Monday.
The US reported more than 44,600 new cases on Sunday, and the seven-day average rose to over 49,200 new cases per day, up more than 14% from one, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University Week equals. Average daily cases increased more than 5% in 36 states and the District of Columbia, according to CNBC̵
Similarly, the number of people currently hospitalized with Covid-19 increased by at least 5% in 36 states. This emerges from analysis of CNBC’s data from the Covid Tracking Project, a volunteer project founded by journalists from Atlantic Magazine.
“This is a bad place when you’re going in the cooler autumn weather and the colder winter weather,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, in an interview with Shepard Smith on the news. “We’re in a bad place. Now we have to change that.”
Fauci, who is also a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, added that the percentage of tests returning positive, or test positivity rate, is increasing in the states of the Midwest and Northwest. That number is seen as a leading indicator of a growing outbreak that will lead to “more cases and ultimately more hospitalizations and ultimately more deaths,” Fauci said.
When adjusted for the population, many of the states with the highest number of new infections are in the Midwest and Northwest. The Dakotas, Montana and Wisconsin reported the most new cases per capita in the country, according to CNBC’s analysis of the Hopkins data.
The rising cases and signs of growing outbreaks across much of the country are particularly worrying as the weather turns colder in the northern parts of the United States. In the colder months, people are expected to spend more time indoors and this could be the “perfect facility” for speeding up airway-borne diseases, “Fauci added.
Fauci said there are five basic public health protocols that “can certainly reverse the peaks we see and prevent new peaks from occurring”. He said using a universal mask, maintaining physical distance, avoiding the crowds, doing more outdoor activities, and washing hands frequently would all help stop the virus from spreading.
“I have great faith in the American people and their ability to see what lies ahead is a major problem,” said Fauci. “We’re talking about using public health policies as a vehicle or gateway to keep the country open and keep the economy going. That’s not an obstacle.”
Fauci, who recently said he disagreed with appearing in an advertisement for the Trump campaign apparently announcing the president’s handling of the pandemic, added that he intended to stay in his position to Hold out the pandemic regardless of who wins the November 3rd US presidential election.
“It’s too important a problem. I’ve devoted my entire professional life to fighting infectious diseases. This is an outbreak of historic proportions such as we haven’t seen in 102 years,” said Fauci. “I won’t walk away from this outbreak no matter who the president is.”