As we enter the Labor Day weekend, Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, has some dire words regarding the spread of coronavirus: new daily infection numbers are still much too high.
Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, discussed on Wednesday the high daily new case totals of COVID-19 while being interviewed on MSNBC.
“We’re right around 40,000 new cases” per day, Fauci noted. “That’s an unacceptably high baseline. We’ve got to get it down, I’d like to see it 10,000 or less, hopefully less.”
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The last time the seven-day average of daily new COVID-19 cases was below 40,000 was on June 28, according to data collection by The New York Times, and the last time it was at or below 30,000 cases per day was on June 23 — 71 days ago. As of September 1, the seven-day average of new cases being reported was at 42,214.
Fauci added that it was incumbent upon Americans to help bring COVID-19 levels down, urging people to wear masks, avoid crowds whenever possible, wash their hands regularly, and stay six feet apart from others.
“I really want to use this opportunity almost to have a plea to the people in this country to realize that we really still need to get our arms around this,” he added.
Understanding that many would be celebrating the upcoming Labor Day weekend, Fauci conceded that if people were to gather, they should do so outdoors while observing those social distancing rules.
“You don’t need to lock yourself down, but don’t be careless about things,” he said.
Unfortunately for Fauci, not everyone is on board with his suggestions for preventing the spread of the disease — including President Donald Trump’s newest coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas, who is an advocate of a number of questionable beliefs regarding the pandemic.
Atlas, for example, has suggested that there isn’t a scientific consensus that wearing masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and has also stated he does not believe children can spread the disease. Both ideas, however, contradict what is widely understood about coronavirus, as mask mandates have been shown to have had positive outcomes, and recent studies have demonstrated children played a bigger role in spreading the virus.
Trump’s new adviser is also a believer in allowing the disease to run its course, with the thinking that a “herd immunity” will develop at some point — a belief that has been condemned by a wide number of health experts, and has been derided by many as having a link to eugenics.
A number of models, including one previously touted by the White House, showcase that wearing masks can help save thousands of lives between now and the end of the year, in spite of Atlas’s aversion to the idea. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (IHME), it is predicted that the cumulative death count for COVID-19 in the U.S. will reach 317,000 by December 1.
That number can be reduced by 67,000, however, if 95 percent of the population wore masks in public, the model predicted — or, put another way, the number of deaths that would occur between now and December 1 could be cut in half if the vast majority of the population practiced wearing a mask.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 6 million cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the United States, with close to 185,000 deaths attributed to the disease.