DR ANTHONY Fauci has warned the US is still in the "first wave" of its coronavirus outbreak as six states suffered record numbers of cases after lifting lockdowns.
The infectious disease expert is wary of the consequences as states across the nation begin to re-open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fauci said reports of people taking to bars and other crowded venues as lockdown restrictions relax nationwide are unsettling, especially since the country is not yet out of the woods.
"People are talking about a second wave," he told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. "We're still in the first wave."
Fauci's comments come after 17 states – the majority of those in the South – reported new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Nine states – Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas – recorded new single-day highs or set records for seven-day new cases averages on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
President Trump has cited increased coronavirus testing across the US as the reason behind the increase in positive results.
"Our testing is so much bigger and more advanced than any other country (we have done a great job on this!) that it shows more cases," the President tweeted Monday. "Without testing, or weak testing, we would be showing almost no cases."
However, Fauci told the Wall Street Journal that increased testing wouldn't explain the higher percentages of positive results in many states, stressing that as the country re-opens, safety measures like social distancing and continuing to wear masks must remain in place.
Fauci also said, in a new interview with The Daily Beast, that his outlook on the current status of the pandemic isn't entirely bleak – and he doubts that the country would see another sudden outbreak like the one in New York City earlier this year.
"New York, unfortunately, really got hit by surprise, because they had activity coming into this city from Europe when everybody was focusing on China. They all of a sudden found that they had a massive outbreak,” Fauci said. “I don't think that could happen under today's circumstances of our full awareness of the potential of this virus, which is highly transmissible.”
Still, Fauci urged caution surrounding the rush to open the country back up – saying that Americans need to be sure not to throw common sense safety measures by the wayside.
To date, more than 2.1 million people in the US have contracted the coronavirus, and more than 116,000 have died from complications related to the virus, according to the latest statistics.
Many states, though, including some that saw the most devastating COVID-19 outbreaks, have been able to "flatten the curve" since cases peaked around mid-April. New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Massachusetts, along with 16 other states, have all seen steady decreases in the number of positive coronavirus cases. In order to keep those positive trends going, Fauci said continued precautions are key.
When asked by the Daily Beast whether he personally would feel comfortable attending something like President Trump's indoor rally planned for this weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma – which has caused quite a bit of controversy due to safety concerns – Fauci said no.
"I'm in a high risk category. Personally, I would not. Of course not," Fauci, who is in his late 70s, said.
He added, when it comes to social events, “outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd."
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