Coronavirus deaths will continue to climb in the U.S. this week even as new cases near their peak and the rate of hospitalizations slow down, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday.
"It's going to be a bad week for deaths," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Fox News.
Fauci said deaths generally lag behind other aspects of the outbreak such as new cases and hospitalization.
After this week, the U.S. should see the "beginning of a turnaround," Fauci said.
"So, we need to keep pushing on the mitigation strategies because there is no doubt that that is having a positive impact on the dynamics of the outbreak," he said. "Now is not the time to pull back at all. It's the time to intensify."
The White House has previously projected that 100,000 to 240,000 people in the U.S. will die from the coronavirus. As people continue to practice social distancing, Fauci said that projection is likely to fall.
The virus, which emerged in China a little over three months ago, has infected about 400,000 people in the United States and has killed at least 12,911 as of Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
New York is the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S. On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday the state saw its biggest single-day jump in COVID-19 fatalities since the outbreak began a few months ago.
Fatalities jumped even as the number of intensive care admissions started to decline, giving the state some needed breathing room to ramp up supplies and staff to handle an expected wave of cases over the next few weeks, he said.
On Tuesday, Fauci, who sits on President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said the COVID-19 outbreak is "shining a bright light" on how "unacceptable" the health disparities between blacks and whites are.
"Yet again, when you have a situation like the coronavirus, they are suffering disproportionately," Fauci said of minorities.
"It's not that they are getting infected more often. It's that when they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions ... wind them up in the ICU," he said at a White House press conference Tuesday.