Dr. Anthony Fauci told “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir that if mask and social distancing guidelines aren’t followed, the U.S. could be dealing with dual outbreaks of the flu and COVID-19 come fall and winter.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in July that the convergence could create “one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health” during a webinar for the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“I totally agree,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who has advised six U.S. presidents. He noted that if masks and social distancing is not enforced “in a uniform way” Redfield’s prediction may become a reality.
“We’d have a convergence of two respiratory diseases,” he said during an interview Monday. “We can have a very difficult time.”
“I want to impress upon the American people in a way that’s so clear: There are things that we can do that would get the level down,” he said. “If we go into the fall and the winter, David, with the same situation… we will have upticks of percent positive, and then you have the inevitable surging of infection.”
There is a way the convergence can be avoided, Fauci says, “but it’s not by wishful thinking.”
Fauci previously named a goal of less than 10,000 cases a day by the fall. The U.S. is still seeing 50,000 to 70,000 cases a day, according to the World Health Organization.
“The way human nature is acting out there, it doesn’t seem likely [this goal will be met]. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” Fauci said. “I don’t know howmore forcefully I can make that plea to the American people. That we can open the country, we can get back to normality, if we do some simple things.”
He said he isn’t pessimistic that the country can pull together and bring COVID-19 cases down.
“My message is one of cautious optimism and hope,” he said. “But I’m also very realistic to know that if we don’t do it, we’re going to continue to have this up and down.”