The coronavirus outbreak in US cities could start to level off in the next week, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with with Howard Bauchner, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, on Wednesday in a livestreamed interview. He said he expects the US to soon start reaping the rewards of lockdowns and social distancing efforts.
“I think we’re going to start to see soon, within the next week or so, kind of a plateauing out and a turning around,” Fauci said. “We’ve got to be cautiously optimistic, not be overconfident. But I think we’re going to start seeing that.”
Other experts also think the US’s coronavirus outbreak will likely peak in the next week or two, after which the country could start to see declines in the daily number of new cases. President Donald Trump has warned that this could be the “toughest week” yet.
“It’s going to be the peak hospitalization, peak ICU week, and unfortunately, peak death week,” Admiral Brett Giroir, a physician on the White House coronavirus task force, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.
As of Wednesday, the US had documented nearly 425,000 cases and more than 14,500 deaths from COVID-19.
“While none of this is good news, the possible flattening of the curve is better than the increases that we have seen,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his daily briefing on Monday, according to Reuters. “If we are plateauing, we are plateauing at a high level.”
After the plateau
While the US could wind up on the other side of the coronavirus peak by the end of April, that’s not quite the light at the end of the tunnel.
“The real challenge is if we do then try — which everybody is talking about — to get back to some degree of normality,” Fauci said.
Experts have warned that easing stay-at-home restrictions too much too early could lead to a second wave of the virus’ spread. Some countries and territories in East Asia have reimposed restrictions shortly after lifting their lockdowns and seeing case counts grow again.
“We’ve got to make sure that we very aggressively and vigorously do not allow the resurgence of a case, or two or three or 10 or 20, get out of hand. We’ve got to jump all over that so that we don’t have recurrent peaks,” Fauci said.
If the US enters the fall unprepared for this possibility, especially given that the virus could make a seasonal resurgence, he said the country could be in the same position it’s in now.
“If we do that we’re just going to be playing a sawtooth game,” Fauci added. He drew a multi-peak graph in the air with his finger.