Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday that Americans should prepare to “hunker down” in the fight against COVID-19 as activities move indoors in the fall and winter and the risk of spread rises.
Speaking to a panel of doctors from Harvard Medical School, Fauci said that daily reviews of COVID-19 data by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force show that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus eludes containment.
“I keep looking at that curve and I get more depressed and more depressed about the fact that we never really get down to the baseline that I’d like,” he said. “I’m sure some of you have heard me say that I don’t talk about second surges because we’re still in the first surge.”
He said that if reopening of the economy is not done “correctly,” there will be multiple, localized spikes in infections. “Now, if you look at the map, it’s Montana, North and South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa—those are the ones that are surging.”
As the weather gets colder and people increasingly shift their activities indoors, this will pose another challenge to containing the virus.
“I think that as we get into the fall and we do more indoor things, we are likely going to see upticks in COVID-19,” Fauci said.
With wide-scale awareness and adoption of public health measures like social distancing and hygiene, he said there’s hope that there won’t be a “massive resurgence of COVID, because what I would like to see is keeping the lid on it, keeping the baseline down till we get a vaccine,” which he expects will be available around the end of the year and “will be the thing that turns it around.”
But until that inflection point is reached, Fauci said Americans need to “hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.”
“Every time we lift restrictions, we get a blip,” he said, adding, “it’s whack-a-mole.”
He said what is now critical to containment efforts is to see whether a surge will follow the Labor Day weekend, like was noted after the Fourth of July holiday, after which cases began accelerating.
Fauci’s remarks come as nearly 30 U.S. states are reporting downward trends in CCP virus infections and surges in a handful of them.
As of Friday, more than 6.43 million people have been infected with the virus in the United States and at least 192,000 have died, according to a Johns Hopkins tally.