The country’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci took to social media Monday, reiterating that the COVID-19 pandemic is growing worse and affecting younger age groups.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Fauci sat down virtually with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg for an in-depth question-and-answer session to talk about the current state of the pandemic. The conversation was livestreamed on Facebook.
“We’re in a very precarious situation,” Fauci told Zuckerberg. “When you look at the numbers, almost every day either breaks a record or ties a record of cases.”
The interview came on the same day that the U.S. surpassed 267,000 deaths since the pandemic started. The country had reported more than 13.5 million positive cases as of Nov. 30.
Fauci warned that Americans could possibly see a “surge upon a surge” after millions of people traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday, against the advice of health experts. Fauci also noted that states having different levels of restrictions is also making matters worse as people travel across state lines.
Health experts had pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who didn't live with them. Nevertheless, almost 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, the most since the pandemic gripped the country in March, and others took to the highways to be with family and friends.
White House corononavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx told CBS that people who traveled should “assume that you were exposed and you became infected,” and get tested if they experience symptoms.
The country on average is seeing more than 160,000 new cases per day and over 1,400 deaths — a toll on par with what the nation witnessed in mid-May, when New York City was the epicenter.
In a stark warning to younger age groups, Fauci said doctors are seeing a substantial amount of seriously ill patients between 40 and 59 years old.
He admitted that when the pandemic first hit, it seemed that the elderly were among the sickest patients. But he said as the pandemic has progressed, the U.S. is seeing more young people among the most seriously affected patients. He said people in their 30s, 40s and 50s should not get lulled into a false sense of security.
“There are enough people who are younger who are getting into trouble,” Fauci explained.
A record 90,000 people were in the hospital with the virus in the U.S. as of Sunday, pushing many medical institutions to the limit.
Fauci stressed that there are steps Americans can take to prevent the pandemic from worsening, including wearing a mask, staying six feet apart when possible, avoiding crowds, opting for outdoor activities over indoor activities and proper handwashing.
“We have it within our power to get ourselves through this until we ultimately get a vaccine,” Fauci added. “Help is on the way but it’s not here yet.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing two potential vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. If approved for emergency use authorization, the companies said the vaccines could roll out as early as mid-December and could be widely available for the public by summer 2021.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed to this report.