National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci said on Sunday’s broadcast of CNN’s “State of the Union” that the United States could see hundreds of thousands of fatalities if we do not stop the community spread in the coronavirus outbreak.
Anchor Brianna Keilar asked, “There have been estimates of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. who could die or, in the worst-case scenario, millions. Can you tell the American people that that is possible?”
Fauci said, “You know, it’s possible because when you do a model, you have a worst-case scenario, the best-case scenario, and the reality is how you react to that will depend where you’re going to be on that curve. So obviously we are clearly going to have more infections. There’s going to be more problems with regard to morbidity and mortality. The challenge we have right now is how do we blunt that. I’ve said many times if you just leave it alone and let the virus to its own devices, it will go way up and come down naturally over a period of several weeks. Unfortunately for our colleagues in Italy and France and certainly in China, that’s what happened. Our challenge right now is to do two things, is to prevent the new influx of cases, hence the travel restrictions, and for what we’re dealing with right now, is to know that we’re going to get more infections but blunt it so that we don’t have that sharp peak, so we have a smaller hump. Even with that, we’ll have people getting infected, but we need to try to get there as opposed to there.”
Keilar asked, “Are you thinking that hundreds of thousands of Americans could die from this?”
Fauci said, “I say that, and it sometimes gets taken out of context. We have to be realistic and honest. Yes, it is possible. Our job, our challenge, is to try and make that not happen. But to think, if we go about our daily lives and not worry about anything, that it’s not going to happen, it could happen, and it could be worse. To me, that’s a real impetus to take very seriously the kind of things. I might make a point that people sometimes think that you’re overreacting. I like it when people are thinking I’m overreacting because that means we’re doing it just right.”
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