Dr Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, warns COVID-19 there is getting a lot worse
The White House coronavirus task force is warning of a persistent and broad spread of COVID-19 in the western half of the United States.
- Dr Fauci said the US needs a mask mandate to combat coronavirus
- Confirmed cases are rising in 47 of the 50 states in the USA
- Mr Trump pushed to reopen the US economy, sometimes against the advice of his own government experts
The area includes a number of battleground states that will play an important role in next week’s US presidential election.
“We are on a very difficult trajectory. We’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr Anthony Fauci, task force member and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said.
Dr Fauci said coronavirus cases were rising in 47 states and hospitals across the country were being overwhelmed.
Data from the Johns Hopkins University revealed record case numbers in more than 20 states.
“This is going to get worse because we’re going more into a colder season, as we get through the fall and into the winter with the holiday season.”
Dr Fauci said the numbers were “stunning” and the US needed to make masks compulsory to combat the coronavirus.
“If we don’t get [a national mask law], then I would hope that the governors and the mayors do it locally, if it’s not done nationally,” he said.
He also said he had not spoken about coronavirus to President Donald Trump “in quite a while”.
Dr Fauci has praised Victoria’s attitude towards mask-wearing, and has named Australia and New Zealand among the countries to have done “quite well” in tackling the pandemic.
“I would like to say the same for the United States, but the numbers speak for themselves,” he said.
Long-term lockdowns don’t work: White House
The White House coronavirus task force has warned states in the middle and west of the country that aggressive mitigation measures will be necessary, according to weekly state reports obtained by CNN.
Presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats in Congress have excoriated Mr Trump for his handling of the pandemic, which has killed nearly 227,000 people in the United States.
Mr Trump has pushed to reopen the US economy, sometimes against the advice of his own government health experts.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defended the administration’s response and stressed that therapeutics and vaccines were on the way.
There are no calls for a nationwide lockdown at this point, but health officials are urging a renewed push to get Americans to redouble mitigation efforts.
Mr Meadows did not say the White House would engage in any new initiatives on that front.
Mr Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus, claiming for weeks that the country is “rounding the turn” as cases climb.
The task force reports said the cooler weather was a major factor in the increase in cases as friends and families moved gatherings indoors.
It urged states to intensify efforts to encourage mask wearing, social distancing and avoiding crowds in public spaces.
US hospitalisations are soaring, a metric not affected by the amount of testing done.
Thirteen states, mainly in the Midwest and West, reported a record number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients on Wednesday, according to a Reuters analysis.
Wisconsin, a hotly contested battleground, is one of 36 states where coronavirus hospitalisations are rising by at least 10 per cent compared with the previous week.
Michigan, another election battleground state, logged a one-day record of over 3,500 new cases.
Illinois reported over 6,000 new cases on Wednesday (local time), the biggest increase of any state in the country and topping the 5,700 new cases in the much more populous state of Texas and 4,200 new cases in California.
Florida, a key battleground state where both Mr Biden and Mr Trump are campaigning, recorded 27,893 cases this week to date, significantly down from the record high of 80,236 weekly cases in recorded in mid-July.