Fauci warns coronavirus could become 'seasonal' illness if not controlled soon

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, delivers remarks at a press briefing. (Official White House photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that if the coronavirus outbreak does not get “globally under control,” it is likely to become a recurring problem.

Fauci echoed officials who warned that the coming week will be a bad one with the number of deaths expected to increase to a “shocking” degree, but said that social distancing practices will help flatten the curve of cases.

 “Unless we get this globally under control there’s a very good chance that it will assume a seasonal nature,” Fauci told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Fauci said that people must be prepared for a resurgence next year, which is why officials fighting the pandemic are pushing for a vaccine and clinical trials for therapeutic interventions so “we will have interventions that we did not have” when this started.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned on “Fox News Sunday” that the outbreak’s projection for this week shows that the death toll could be of historic proportions. Fauci shared this attitude, but noted that things may improve soon after.

“Well, this is going to be a bad week,” Fauci said, but added that “we should hope that within a week, maybe a little bit more, we should see a flattening out of the curve and coming down.”

He reiterated the need to practice safe social distancing to help get through the coming days.

“On the one hand, things are going to get bad and we need to be prepared for that. It’s going to be shocking to some,” he said. “But that’s what’s going to happen before it turns around. So just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue do the physical separation because we got to get through this week that’s coming up because it is going to be a bad week.”

Most states in the U.S. currently have stay-at-home orders requiring people to keep from going out in public. Delivering a message to those in states without stay-at-home orders, Fauci emphasized the need for social distancing.

“Please take a look at those very simple guidelines of physical separation,” he said, using examples of avoiding movies and crowds of ten people, as well as staying 6 feet apart from other individuals.

“Even in areas where you’re not having a big explosion of cases, to the best of your ability do that,” he said. “Because this virus doesn’t discriminate whether you’re in a small town in a relatively secluded areas of the country versus whether you’re in a big city. And sooner or later, you’re going to see a surge of cases. So I would urge people to please take a look at that.”