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“Bad fall and bad winter” – Fauci warns second coronavirus wave “inevitable” if America reopens too soon

Federal and state officials all over the country face pressure to ease coronavirus restrictions as Americans show signs of “coronavirus fatigue.” However, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns that a second wave of coronavirus infections is “inevitable” in the United States later this year should restrictions be eased too soon.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that the nation could see a surge that would “get us right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago,” should states ease their restrictions too early. He also added that widespread testing is necessary to avoid going down that path.

“If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well,” Fauci said in an interview. “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.”

Expanded testing is key to keeping the virus under control

Fauci’s statement on the need for testing echoes a report by the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. The report argues that the U.S. needs to conduct 5 million tests daily to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Related: Did CDC deliberately delay testing kits, allowing the coronavirus to spread?)

However, Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, blasted the report’s recommendations on Wednesday, saying that it was “an Ivory Tower, unreasonable benchmark.”

“There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day,” he added. Giroir noted that the U.S. will ramp up testing to eight million per month by May.

During the same Oval Office meeting, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, also suggested that the United States was still a way off from achieving the five million daily tests number.

“I think we do need that kind of a new breakthrough to a new technique, a new measurement to get to the kind of numbers that Harvard is talking about,” said Birx. “But I think we’ve made it clear all along that states have controlled and mitigated with the current number.”

States will now handle social distancing guidelines

Fauci’s warning of a second wave comes as the federal government looks to be handing more responsibility to individual states to handle the outbreak moving forward. On Wednesday, Trump suggested that he does not plan to extend federal social distancing guidelines. He noted that the state governors will instead make decisions on what guidelines work best for their constituents.

“They’ll be fading out, because now the governors are doing it,” Trump said of the federal guidelines in a meeting with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“We’re speaking to a lot of different people, and they’re explaining what they’re doing. And I am very much in favor of what they’re doing. They’re getting it going. And we’re opening our country again,” the president added.

The federal guidance was first issued in March; the president later extended it through April.

While the president did not explicitly say so, his comments Wednesday seem to indicate that the administration’s broad guidelines for states to follow as they begin reopening will replace the earlier, nationwide guidance. The guidelines suggest that states should first see a decrease in confirmed COVID-19 cases over a 14 day period.

Some states, however, have proceeded to partially reopen even without having met that criteria.

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