Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force team, gave a grim assessment of where things could be headed with regard to the total number of new cases of COVID-19 infections seen daily in the United States.
The country is “going in the wrong direction” in terms of controlling the spread of COVID-19, Fauci said, while testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Fauci and other health experts were on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to offer their thoughts on reopening schools in the fall and other businesses that have not yet opened.
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The committee hearing took place as the U.S. has begun to see higher numbers of the disease being recorded, including on Saturday when a record-breaking 45,300 new cases were identified. Since the coronavirus pandemic reached the country, over 2.6 million cases have been documented, with more than 126,360 recorded deaths from the disease as of Tuesday afternoon.
With those numbers from this past weekend in mind, Fauci explained that it’s possible the daily totals could go even higher, since the U.S. is not showing any signs of stopping the spread of COVID-19.
“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” Fauci said during his testimony.
The infectious diseases expert also offered some advice that some in the country — including President Trump — have openly thwarted: wear a mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We have got to get the message out that we are all in this together,” Fauci warned. “If you are outside your home and can’t socially distant, you should wear a mask at all times.”
At the same committee hearing, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield encouraged the same moves.
“It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of COVID and embrace the universal use of face coverings. I ask those that are listening to spread the word,” Redfield said.
Yet for some, masks and facial coverings have become a political statement, with those having conservative leanings being less likely to wear them, according to a recent Pew Research poll on the subject.
The most prominent individual to refuse to wear a mask, of course, is the president. Trump has infamously chosen not to don a facial covering, in spite of recommendations from his own health experts telling every American to do so.
Some of Trump’s refusal to wear a mask might stem from reasons of vanity.
“I just don’t want to be doing — I don’t know, somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful Resolute Desk, the great Resolute Desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens. I don’t know, somehow, I don’t see it for myself,” Trump said in April.
Other reasons why Trump won’t wear a mask appear to be political. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this month, the president said that he believes some in the U.S. wear masks to spite him, or to show disapproval of his presidency.