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Dr. Fauci Warns the "Worst is Still to Come"

“As we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse,” he says.
FACT CHECKED BY Checkmark Emilia Paluszek
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California hospitals are full to overflowing. States down South—including onetime epicenters Florida and Texas—are seeing cases rise. We have had more deaths than 9/11 on many days straight. Sometimes, it seems the COVID-19 pandemic cannot get any worse. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke on CNN's State of the Union this morning to say, well, it can get worse. And it will. Read on to hear (and heed) his warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

Dr. Fauci Agrees That the Worst is Yet to Come

"I want to ask about something that President-Elect Biden said this week," said anchor Dana Bash. "He said the darkest days in the battle against COVID are ahead of us. Dr. Fauci, as you know, over a hundred thousand of our fellow Americans spent their holiday hospitalized with COVID-19 and we're averaging nearly 200,000 new cases more than 2,000 deaths each day. Do you agree that the worst is still yet to come?"

"I do," answered Fauci, "and the reason I'm concerned—and my colleagues in public health are concerned also—is that we very well might see a post-seasonal—in the sense of Christmas, New Year's—surge. And as I've described it as this 'surge upon a surge,' because if you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we've experienced as we've gone into the late fall and soon to be early winter, it is really quite troubling. You mentioned the numbers yourself quite correctly when you're dealing with a baseline of 200,000 cases, new cases a day, and about 2,000 deaths per day with the hospitalizations are over 120,000. We're really at a very critical point." 

"If you put more pressure on the system," he continued, "by what might be a post-seasonal surge because of the traveling and the likely congregating of people for the good warm purposes of being together for the holidays….It's very tough for people to not do that. And yet, even though we advised not to, it's going to happen. So I share the concern of President-Elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse."

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There is "Danger" of Another Surge

Fauci was asked again about the chances of another surge. "There's no guarantee it will happen," he said, "but there certainly is a danger of that. When you travel, you see pictures on the TV screens, then of people at airports, crowded in lines, trying to stay physically separated, but it's so difficult to do that. And that generally is followed [by a surge]. When people get to the destination, they want to be—you're going to have mixing of household people at a dinner or at a social function. Those are the things that naturally happen. And as much as we advise against it, nonetheless, it happens. And that's one of the reasons why we're concerned about that being a real risk situation for the spread of infection."

Fauci had previously warned these family gatherings would lead to the spread, as did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread," they said. "Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk."

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How to Get Through This Pandemic Alive and Well

As for yourself, follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.