Dr. Fauci Says These States Could See the Next COVID Surge
At this point in the pandemic, it would be a massive understatement to say that everyone is ready to put COVID-19 behind us once and for all. But thanks to the spread of the Delta variant, certain areas of the country are still struggling to bring down infections, particularly in the South where some places saw their highest ever levels of cases over the summer. But even as the Delta surge is showing signs of waning in certain spots, Anthony Fauci, MD, chief White House COVID adviser, warns that another set of states could soon see cases rise as the virus spreads. Read on to see which areas could be affected.
During an appearance on CNN on Sept. 27, Fauci was asked by host Wolf Blitzer whether the surge that gripped the South over most of the summer could potentially migrate to states in the Northeast over the coming weeks. "That is possible," Fauci replied. But he also clarified that the spike wasn't necessarily a foregone conclusion, adding: "It is within our power, and within our grasp, to keep it from occurring."
Getting more people vaccinated and using masks—especially in schools—could stop the surge.
Fauci then explained that the tools needed to keep another spike from happening already exist in the arsenal. "There are a lot of things that we can do to make a surge in the Northeast or any other place much less likely if we implement the things we need to get implemented. You do it by vaccination, number one, and you do it by mitigation methods, such as wearing masks in indoor places and congregate settings," he advised, adding that masking in schools and getting enough adults vaccinated so as to help protect children from infection was also important.
He also pointed out that children becoming eligible to receive their shots could significantly keep the virus at bay. "If we get the approval to vaccinate elementary school children, that will be very helpful. As will getting many of the adolescents who are already approved to be vaccinated, that would be helpful," he said.
Other experts have echoed Fauci's outlook about the next phase of the pandemic. During an interview with CNN the previous day, Scott Gottlieb, MD, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said there was still the potential for another spike in cases in the coming weeks.
"I think the big question mark is whether the Northeast is going to see its own surge of infection," he told anchor Pamela Brown. "There's a presumption that because of the high vaccination rates and high prior exposure from previous waves of infection that it's somewhat impervious to a big wave of infection. I'm a little bit more skeptical: I think you're still going to see a wave of infections sweep across the Northeast as kids go back to school and they become sources of community spread, as people return to work, [and as] the weather gets cold and people move indoors."
But the former official also offered his own optimistic prediction on when we may finally begin to put the worst of the Delta surge behind us, saying: "I think by Thanksgiving, it's probably going to have run its course across the whole country."
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When asked by Blitzer whether or not he agreed with Gottlieb's forecast that the country could see the Delta surge brought under control by late November, Fauci held back from offering up too many overly optimistic outlooks. "I think we have to be very careful when we make predictions about this particular outbreak because we've been through about 20 months of ups and downs here," he stated. "Of course, we all hope that we'll be able to get this under rather significant control by Thanksgiving, but a lot of that is going to depend on getting a lot more people vaccinated."
He emphasized that more work was necessary to prevent the next major outbreak from occurring. "When you have 70 million people who are eligible for vaccinations who don't get vaccinated, you give the virus ample opportunity to continue to spread, and when it continues to spread, you give it the opportunity to develop more variants. We've got to get a hold of this by putting a great deal of effort—[and] that might include some…local mandates—but we've got to get those people vaccinated," Fauci urged. "So I would be hesitant to make a prediction about where we're going to be unless we know where we're going with the vaccinations."