States experiencing large coronavirus outbreaks might need to consider shutting back down to prevent further spread, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“What we are seeing is exponential growth. It went from an average of about 20,000 to 40,000 and 50,000. That’s doubling. If you continue doubling, two times 50 is 100,” the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases said Thursday on a Wall Street Journal podcast. “Any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It’s not for me to say because each state is different.”
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the comment as total cases across the United States continue an upward trend. The surge came as most states were in the middle of lifting strict COVID-19 restrictions imposed in the springtime, and several governors have halted their plans to reopen and have implemented extended or new restrictions. The new surges in cases could hamper reopening as large outbreaks have begun to threaten hospital capacity in some states.
Fauci said states reopening too soon were partly to blame for the June and July resurgence. He also blamed people who did not follow public health guidelines.
“Among the states, and there’s admission from within, some states went too fast, some states went according to what the timetable was, but the people in the state didn’t listen and just threw caution to the wind,” Fauci said. “Some states, it gets frustrating, because, not to name any states, but some states admittedly opened up too early and too quickly, so that was something that probably should not have happened that led to this.”
The U.S. broke a single-day record this week for most new COVID-19 cases with more than 60,000 new infections. There have been more than 3 million confirmed cases and at least 132,000 deaths in the U.S. since the pandemic began, according to the most recent tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The average age of people infected in the newest COVID-19 case spikes has been younger than that in the first major wave of cases earlier this year. Although younger people are far less likely to become hospitalized or die from the virus, Fauci warned they could come into contact with older or more vulnerable populations.
“To say that it’s benign is not true, because we’re already seeing the hospitalizations going up in these states,” he said. “We’re seeing the intensive care beds are now almost being fully occupied, so this is not inconsequential what’s going on. It’s having an impact.”