Fauci: Case counts ‘stunning’ as many places see COVID-19 surge
Many countries are seeing a spike in COVID-19, including the United States, where a third wave has pushed the number of cases above 8.2 million, including 220,000 deaths.
“The numbers throughout the globe have been stunning, making this already the most disastrous pandemic that we have experienced in our civilization in over 102 years, since the 1918 influenza pandemic," Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a special session at IDWeek focused on COVID-19.
Fauci noted the global case count: “40 million cases and over 1.1 million deaths.”
“Unfortunately, for the United States, we have been hit harder than virtually any other country on the planet,” he said.
During his talk, Fauci showed a graph comparing the European Union with the U.S. Case counts in the EU peaked sooner, driven by the northern Italy outbreak.
“We had a major peak slightly after the European Union, driven by the outbreak in the New York metropolitan area — which at one point, early on, accounted for about 40% of all the cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.,” he explained. “Between April and June, our baseline never got below 20,000. But then, as we began to so-call ‘open up America,’ again, you can see the sharp inflection, the increase from June, July into August, when they went up to about 70,000 cases per day.”
Fauci noted that daily case counts came back down a little bit to between 50,000 and 60,000, a baseline still much higher than in the EU, which he attributed to Americans’ increased activity.
“The United States did not shut down as a country as much as the European Union did,” he said.
The Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center, which tracks state-level trends, has reported recent sharp increases in daily cases in states like North Dakota (803 cases per 100,000 people), Wisconsin (3,317 per 100,000 people), Rhode Island (293 per 100,000 people) and Wyoming (230 per 100,000 people), and declines in states including Arkansas, Kentucky and South Dakota.
Moving forward, Fauci said there are five major principles for preventing COVID-19: the universal wearing of masks or face cloth face coverings, maintaining physical distance where possible, avoiding crowds in congregate settings — particularly indoors — trying to do things outdoors as much as possible, and frequent hand-washing.
“These five public health interventions alone have been shown in multiple settings to have a major impact in preventing surges and diminishing surges after they've occurred,” he said.
Fauci, AS. Chasing the sun: Overview. Presented at: IDWeek; Oct. 21-25, 2020 (virtual meeting).
Johns Hopkins. American is reopening. But have we flattened the curve? https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states. Accessed on Oct. 20, 2020.