Mar 11, 2020 - Health

Top NIH doctor tells Congress coronavirus outbreak is "going to get worse"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress Wednesday that the worst is yet to come in the U.S. regarding the coronavirus outbreak — a warning he has repeatedly sounded in recent weeks.

What he said:

"Whenever you have an outbreak that you can start seeing community spread, which means by definition that you don't know what the index case is, and the way you can approach it is by contact tracing — when you have enough of that then it becomes a situation where you're not going to be able to effectively and efficiently contain it.
Whenever you look at the history of outbreaks, what you see now in an uncontained way — and although we are containing it in some respects, we keep getting people coming in from the country that are travel-related. We've seen that in many of the states that are now involved and then when you get community spread it makes the challenge much greater.
So I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now. How much worse it will get will depend on our ability to do two things: to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country.
Bottom line, it's going to get worse."

The state of play: Fauci's message is consistent with what other health officials have said about the outbreak, but contradicts President Trump's declaration in late February that the number of cases "within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero."

  • Confirmed cases in the U.S. have now topped 1,000.
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