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US could hit 100,000 new virus cases a day: Fauci

AFP
Washington
A top US health expert warned Congress on Tuesday that new coronavirus cases could more than double to 100,000 per day if authorities and the public fail to take steps to suppress the pandemic.
Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, a leading member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, said the United States was headed in the “wrong direction” on the pandemic and demanded that Americans wear masks and avoid crowds after lax behaviour propelled new outbreaks.
“I’m very concerned and I’m not satisfied with what’s going on, because we’re going in the wrong direction,” he testified to a Senate panel.
Alarming spikes in new cases in southern hotspots Texas and Florida are driving the daily national total of new cases to over 40,000 per day, and they need to be tamped down quickly to avoid dangerous surges elsewhere in the country, Fauci stressed.
“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” he said adding: “I would not be surprised if it goes up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.”
The dire messaging reinforced concerns about the US ability to rein in a pandemic that has claimed some 126,000 American lives.
The testimony comes as the United States, the world’s hardest-hit nation, with more than 2.6 million infections, was left off the list of 15 countries to which the European Union will open its borders from July 1, and as it grapples with how to assure a safe reopening of schools in the coming months.
Fauci said he believed some states are “skipping over some of the checkpoints” that assure safe reopenings of business and public spaces.
And he also offered a blunt message to the nation’s young adults who have engaged in “dangerous” behavior including congregating in bars, not wearing masks, and not following social distancing guidelines.
“I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have, both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic, that we all have to play a part in that,” Fauci said.