Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that hundreds of thousands of Americans could die from COVID-19 and millions of others could also contract the disease.
“Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 [deaths], but I don’t want to be held to that,” Fauci said, cautioning that the number is a “moving target” that could change depending on a number of social and ecological factors.
“What we do know,” Fauci added, “is that we’ve got a serious problem in New York, we have a serious problem in New Orleans and we’re going to be developing serious problems in other areas.”
There have been more than 53,000 reported cases of COVID-19 in New York state, including 782 deaths, according to The New York Times. In Louisiana, there have more than 3,300 reported cases and 138 deaths. Also, a recent study claims Louisiana has experienced the fastest spread of coronavirus infections in the world.
More than 125,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been reported across the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. To date, several state and local governments have effectively shuttered their communities to curb the virus’ spread, imploring residents to practice social distancing or self-isolation.
After initially referring to the coronavirus as a “hoax” designed by Democrats and downplaying its threat to Americans, the Trump administration has tried to coordinate a belated federal response to supplement individual state efforts. But the federal government’s slow acknowledgment of the coronavirus crisis has led to insufficient testing nationwide, complicating any efforts to truly control the disease.
In the past week, President Donald Trump and several of his conservative allies have called on states to ease up on their social distancing measures now or in the near future in an effort to spur the economy, arguing that the costs of a faltering economy outweigh the benefits of tamping down the pandemic.
But on Sunday, Fauci said from a public health perspective the social distancing measures cannot be lifted until the U.S. ramps up its testing capability.
“I think exactly when it will be relates to the question you asked me,” Fauci told “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper. “When are we going to get that material ― those tests?”
Fauci said without the tests and the vital knowledge they provide, states will not be able to end social distancing in the near future.
“It’s not going to be tomorrow, and it’s certainly not going to be next week,” he said.
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