Dr Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious diseases expert, has warned the United States may not be back to normal until the end of 2021, or even later.
He said the US was “getting worse and worse” as new coronavirus cases averaged over 70,000 a day in the last week.
Dr Fauci said: "I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 and perhaps into the next year before we start having some semblance of normality.
"If normal means you can get people in a theatre without worrying about what we call congregate-setting super infections, if we can get restaurants to open almost at full capacity,"
He added: “People were ridiculed for wearing masks. It depended on which side of a political spectrum you were at, which is so painful to me as a physician, a scientist and a public health person.
"If there’s one area of life where there should not be divisiveness, it is the health of your nation.”
Dr Fauci, who sits on White House coronavirus task force, added: "Unfortunately we're right now in the middle of what's going to be referred to, I think historically, as the mother of all outbreaks over the last hundred years. And we're not even close to being finished with it yet."
He said America was "not well positioned" for the winter months and the daily case totals were set to rise.