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The United States may soon record as many as 100,000 new cases of Covid-19 a day if the current trajectory of the outbreak is not changed, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, warned on Tuesday.

The number of new cases is currently hovering around 40,000 per day.

Fauci’s remarks, made during an appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, came as the number of new cases in some Southern and Southwestern states has soared.

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Some states that had moved to reopen businesses and activities quickly in response to frustration with lockdowns are finding themselves forced to dial back on some moves. California has closed bars in some counties, for instance, and New Jersey announced this week that it would not reopen indoor dining as planned.

“Clearly we are not in total control right now,” Fauci told the committee, warning that far worse conditions are ahead without new efforts to tamp down spread.

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“It is going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that,” he said.

“What was thought to be unimaginable turns out to be the reality we’re facing right now,” Fauci said, adding that “outbreaks happen, and you have to deal with them in a very aggressive, proactive way.”

Fewer than 20 countries have recorded more than 100,000 cases in total. Canada, for instance, has confirmed about 106,000 Covid-19 cases since the outbreak began.

Public health and infectious diseases experts, who have been gravely concerned about the way the U.S. response has unfolded, concurred with Fauci’s assessment.

“It’s unfortunately just a simple consequence of math plus a lack of action,” said Marm Kilpatrick, an infectious diseases dynamics researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “On the one hand it comes across as ‘Oh my God, 100,000 cases per day!’ But then if you actually look at the current case counts and trends, how would you not get that?”

A daily count of 100,000 new cases a day could occur within about three to six weeks, warned Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy.

States with rapidly rising case numbers — Texas for instance — are struggling to care for patients; if the numbers rise to the level Fauci is predicting, hospitals be overwhelmed, Osterholm warned.

“We have to understand if we have 100,000 cases a day, we will have a crisis in intensive care units around the country,” he said, warning that many hospitals still don’t have adequate supplies of protective equipment, and more health workers will die if the outbreak spirals further out of control.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 88,000 health workers in the U.S. have been infected with Covid-19 and 481 have died.

Osterholm said the U.S. needs to come to a consensus about how to control Covid-19. That’s going to take national leadership, he said.

“This country has to come to grips with: What is it that we’re willing to accept?” Osterholm said. “And I think if we leave it up to every governor, I think that is short-sighted. We need a national consensus of what are we trying to do. And then each state can … tailor it to what fits them. But right now, we don’t have a national consensus.”

He advocates finding a middle ground between total shutdown — for which there is waning support in the country — and the rapid reopening that some states have embraced. “It’s got to be something in the middle.”

The country needs to think about what restrictions it can live with as a means of suppressing transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and about how to compensate businesses that are may be forced to stay shut as a consequence, Osterholm said, pointing to bars as an example of a type of business that may need to remain closed while transmission rates are high.

  • Indeed, the numbers will be staggering – and they will escalate – until the US gets leadership that is competent, fair to all, listens to experts, and does not stoke discourse and chaos in the whole nation. I have said for months, that the biggest shortage will be health care workers – a screaming crisis because of the flagrant grand-scale ignorance of easy adaptations like masks, and social distance. Best wishes to all.

    • Anyone who doesn’t want to wear a face mask in public should not expect to get CV19 healthcare. Unfair to HCWs exposed taking care of you. There is plenty of science surfacing in-spite if our national public health chaos.

  • meanwhile

    (data source: CDC; period: Feb1st-Jun20th)
    – official covid-19 deaths as Jun20th: 112k
    – Excess deaths as Jun20th: average 169k*
    as compared to same period between 2015-18 (adjusted for demographic increase)
    *(or 230k as Jun10th when that 112k official deaths was indeed reached, instead of the 20th)
    And those data are missing everything happened in the last couple of weeks.

  • Ir seems that contagion outside is vastly less likely than inside. We are now paying the price of indifference to indoor ventilation systems. Our ventilation systems neither provide effective filtration, nor major exchanges of fresh air. Unless we want to abandon congregations of almost any size indoors we need a crash commitment to the production of powerful ventilation boxes that suck large amount of air in from the top, filter it effectively and discharge it from the side or bottom.

    The idea that simply encouraging social distance inside will do the job is must plain dumb. And I think we will also have to outlaw bars as cruel as that may sound.

  • The news is not all bad.
    We are told the median age of people newly testing positive is 35, when it had been around 60. Partly due to more tests being available, but also, because the positive rate is higher, due to more virus – but, the younger people getting it are mostly not going to get very sick – do not get me wrong, this is a very serious disease, some will die, some will have longstanding health problems – very serious – BUT, the rate of serious complications in patients under 35 will be low- and having got sick, they will probably have immunity afterwards – it seems that is the norm.
    This wave of young people getting immunity should protect the older folks who are in much more danger from it.
    The new estimate of ten people infected for every case identified by PCR active infection testing also indicates the virus is much less lethal than thought.
    And indicates, though we are far from it now, that we will attain herd immunity well before previously thought.
    Early on in the pandemic, a famous scientist living in Israel estimated the progress of the epidemic correctly – one point he made was, the models for herd immunity as given are wrong. People do not infect each other randomly, they infect the person they live with and work with – generally, – and so, herd immunity is achieved much earlier than that model predicts.

    In addition, we can all see plenty of examples of young people hanging out in New York City, drinking, eating, standing close together, no face masks – and yet, we have declining cases in New York. They seem to have herd immunity already- and yet, they have less than the 60 or 70% immunity rate we were told was necessary to achieve that – clearly the model was wrong.

    Since the new estimates of how many people were infected also indicate a much lower fatality rate per case – and, apparently, much lower serious complications/long term health damage rate – not only will the cases be lower than predicted, the illness will be much lower as well.

    I am not expressing approval of what any political leader has done or not done – just saying this will be nowhere near as bad as many of the predictions. i personally am still angry, I am in a moderately high risk category.

    • Isn’t it obvious that the reason the average age of getting infection has declined is that the older people, justly afraid of infection, have continued to quarantine, while the young have ventured forth. It’s also mathematical that social distance is inversely proportional to alcohol consumption, while mask removal rate is directly proportional..

    • Lita – I totally agree. I guess we will have to wait and see how bad it gets – I am in an urban area in California but an area that has low coronavirus rates – they say we are “surging” but it’s really not that high – and what you said is exactly what I see – I and most people my age are being very careful, the youngsters not so much.
      It looks like what is going to happen now is the people under 40 will get infected, become mostly immune, and after that happens, it will be fairly safe for every age. Kind of scary in the meantime however.

  • “Clearly we are not in total control right now,”

    This strikes me as moving the goal posts. NB: You are never in “total control” of anything. Although, that doesn’t seem to stop certain people from trying. In particular, there seems to be a certain strain of thought in medicine that believes you can exert “total control” or at least arrive at it somewhere, someday as part of some sort of eschatological project. Good luck.

    • I think it was ironic understatement. Ie., “We’ve completely lost control of the situation.”

  • Wait just a minute. That’s new cases. That includes data from antibody tests, which may be people who are asymptomatic, recovered, or cross-reactive with previous exposure to one of the mostly harmless coronavirus strains that cause an estimated 5-15% of the common cold. The only reliable data is from hospitalizations and (with a lag time) deaths. More about this here:

    https://luysii.wordpress.com/2020/06/25/death-rates-from-coronavirus-drop-in-half-2-months-after-georgia-loossens-lockdown-restrictions/

  • Thank the people for this as well. It is not just up to the president and the government to do their part. I see people being idiots going out for massive parties on beaches not wearing masks or socially distancing. I see police chiefs telling state counties to not wear masks or socially distance. I see people STILL wanting to vote for Trump after his insane failings, and people still giving misinformation while being greedy and selfish about everything.

    If you want to point fingers, point them at everyone, not just a particular party involved. We all need to do our part.

    • Quite right. The idiots partying closely together without masks are monkeys copying a fully incompetent brash bully that they might vote for again. I hope they figure out how wrong that woud be. It might take an actually foreseeable civil war in the US with so many yelling “freedom!” and refusing to comply with simple to perform preventions. They certainly are not thinking of freedom of disease ……

  • Dr. Fauci you state ‘we are not totally in control’ – I beg to tell you that you – the US – are not in any kind of control!! COVID is rampaging through your country and you will probably never be in any kind of control!! Thank your president and his party for all of this!!

  • So… does the 2 or 3 million projected deaths of American citizens sound about right?

    • Probably. I still can’t believe so many people get bent out of shape about wearing masks. And although I’m sure some of the recent increases in cases were due to the protests, too many people are using the protests as a scapegoat. If only protests were the cause, NYC would have spiked too, and so far it hasn’t. I was extremely worried about the protests even though I am sympathetic to the cause. But it is more than just protests.

      Many, many other cases appear to be simply the result of states that opened too soon, people ignoring masks and social distancing while socializing at bars and beaches, and so on. It’s especially ironic that so many people who could have helped flatten the curve all across the nation gave in to ill-advised mockery of projections of 2 or 3 million U.S. deaths. Now I bet a lot of those people are no longer laughing.

    • @Robert “At 300-400 deaths per day how long will it take to get to that 2-3 Million?” The increase is now up to about 570 per day and will likely climb. Also, if deaths begin to grow faster due to overwhelmed hospitals, it could be like Italy, up around 1000 per day.

      I calculated 2 million dead would take about a year at 2739 deaths per day, so even half that would be about 1 million in a year.

    • At your rate ..13 years. At present infection numbers of 40 grand a day…3 years. At Fauci’s dire projected rate.. maybe a year and a half.

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