The pandemic might have appeared to be slowing down late in the summer, but October has brought new worries—like the president and several White House members getting infected with the virus. And it seems as if the worst is not over yet. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that the United States is once again "entering into another darker period."
Fauci, a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, addressed students, faculty, and staff from the college during an online live forum on Oct. 6. In his discussion, Fauci talked about the coronavirus and explained where he thinks the U.S. is in terms of the pandemic.
"We went through a terrible late winter, early spring. There was hope that when the summer came, it would get better. In fact, it got worse," Fauci said. "And now we're entering into another darker period."
According to Fauci, the crisis is far from over. He said that we are "still in the middle" of this pandemic, with about 4,000 new cases every day.
"It's sort of stuck at that level, which is a completely unacceptable baseline to be at—particularly as we enter into the fall and the winter months where people will be doing things more indoor rather than outdoor," Fauci said.
People spending more times indoors will make it even "more problematic to control" COVID because of the "ease of transmissibility," Fauci said. And this falls in line with a recent report about indoor transmission from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recently updated their guidelines to note evidence that the virus can spread farther than six feet when an infected person is in an enclosed space with inadequate ventilation.
"Avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible," the CDC states. "In general, being outdoors and in spaces with good ventilation reduces the risk of exposure to infectious respiratory droplets."
Despite his warnings, Fauci said that he's "cautiously optimistic" that there will be a coronavirus vaccine sometime either in November or December, or by the beginning of the new year. Yet, that doesn't mean there aren't still things to be worried about with the virus, or precautions that still need to be taken. For more recent warnings from the nation's leading infectious disease expert, read on. And for the latest coronavirus news, Dr. Fauci Says He Recommended a Nationwide Shutdown to Trump Early On.
Fauci said the increase in test positivity is a "bad sign" for COVID.
At the end of September, Fauci made it clear the pandemic was far from over. While some parts of the country seem to be doing well, new areas—like the Midwest—are hitting new highs.
"There are some areas of the countries that are doing quite well. But we're seeing, in certain parts of the country, upticks in test positivity, which is generally a bad prognostic sign," Fauci told Wired on Sept. 30. He explained that an increase in the test positivity rate will result in more cases, more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths down the line. And for more on COVID testing, ditch The COVID Test Myth You Need to Stop Believing, Epidemiologist Says.
Fauci said Florida is "asking for trouble" reopening bars and restaurants.
Many experts, including Fauci, have warned that serious actions and precautions must be taken to avoid a catastrophic winter with the pandemic. However, he recently called out the state of Florida for Gov. Ron DeSantis' decision to allow bars and restaurants to reopen at full capacity across the state on Sept. 25.
"That is very concerning to me," Fauci said during a Sept. 28 interview on ABC's Good Morning America. "That is something we really need to be careful about because when you are dealing with community spread and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without wearing masks, you're really asking for trouble." And for more on what states are and aren't doing to contain the virus, This State Is Doing the Least to Protect Against COVID Right Now.
Fauci said states in the Midwest and Northwest "better hold off" on Thanksgiving this year.
Before other holidays like Labor Day and the Fourth of July, Fauci warned against gathering for celebrations. And he's giving a similar warning for Thanksgiving to specific areas where coronavirus cases are rapidly surging: the Midwest and Northwest.
"I say that some people in this country are going to be having a relatively normal type of a Thanksgiving, but in other areas of the country, it's gonna be—you better hold off and maybe just have immediate family," Fauci warned during an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Oct. 5. "Make sure you do it in a way that people wear masks and you don't have large crowds of people." And for states in serious trouble, These Are the States Where COVID Deaths Are Rising Right Now.
Fauci said the number of people who have said they wouldn't get the COVID vaccine is "disturbing."
Most experts agree that a coronavirus vaccine is the only way to bring the pandemic to an end. However, public confidence isn't so high. A Sept. 17 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Americans believe a vaccine would be approved before its safety and effectiveness could be determined, resulting in only 21 percent of American adults saying they definitely plan to get the vaccine.
This is a drastic decline from the 42 percent who said they would get a vaccine in May, and Fauci called this dip "disturbing." He blamed the drop in public confidence on the "mixed messages that have come out of Washington," during an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 29. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.