Fauci: ‘We don’t have to accept’ 2nd wave of coronavirus as inevitable

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House on April 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top infectious disease expert sounded optimistic this week regarding the chances of a second wave of coronavirus infections hitting the United States — but only if all the countermeasures needed to address the outbreak remain in place.

“We often talk about the possibility of a second wave, or of an outbreak when you’re reopening. We don’t have to accept that as an inevitability,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday during an interview on CNN.

“And particularly when people start thinking about the fall. I want people to really appreciate that it could happen, but it is not inevitable.”

Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has consistently warned that the virus could come back stronger in the fall or winter.

In an interview last month, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned of an even deadlier second wave of COVID-19 come winter.

But Fauci said this week that as states begin to reopen in varied ways, he was encouraged by the country’s increased testing capacity.

“I’m feeling better about it as we go by, with the weeks that go by, and we see that we’re getting more and more capability of testing,” Fauci said. “The CDC is putting more of a workforce out there to help us do the kinds of identification, isolation, and contact tracing. I feel better and better that we’re capable of doing that.”

Fauci added that if Americans continue to be vigilant and practice recommended health protocols, we’ll still see COVID-19 infections in the fall — but a so-called second wave may be preventable.

“We are going to see upticks of cases even under the best of circumstances when you reopen. That’s something you accept and what we need to do is have the capability of responding in an effective way,” Fauci said.

He continued: “If we do the kinds of things that we’re putting in place now. To have the workforce, the system and the will to do the kinds of things that are clear and effective — identification, isolation and contact tracing — we can prevent this second wave that we’re talking about if we do it correctly.”

Fauci emphasized that as the country reopens this summer, “don’t start leapfrogging over the recommendations of some of the guidelines because that’s really tempting fate and asking for trouble.”

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