It's been over four months since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic — and it's far from over. As cases continue to climb in the U.S, White House advisor Anthony Fauci is urging Americans to hit the "reset button."
But he's not suggesting that states go back to lockdown mode.
"We've really got to almost regroup, call a time out — not necessarily lock down again, but, say, we've got to do this in a more measured way," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview on Thursday.
Fauci said the U.S. is currently dealing with a "mixed bag" of coronavirus cases. "Some areas [are] doing well, but some really we've got to really pay attention to and do something about it," he said.
On Thursday, the U.S. reported 77,255 new coronavirus cases, shattering its previous single-day record by nearly 10,000, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University. States like California, Florida and Texas accounted for more than half of all new cases.
Fauci, who has been leading the Covid-19 response in the U.S., told The Atlantic on Wednesday that while he won't call out any states in particular, "some states did, in fact, prematurely jump over some checkpoints."
Despite the high infections, Fauci said it "doesn't mean we're going to be defeated." Instead, he suggests that states who are in trouble at the moment should just take a step back and return to the basics.
"If those states pause and say, 'Okay, we're going to do it right — everyone wear a mask, bars closed, no congregating in crowds, keep your distance, protect the vulnerable,' for a few weeks in a row, I'll guarantee you those numbers will come down," Fauci told The Atlantic.
He also emphasized the importance of everyone wearing masks to Zuckerberg. "[Masks] protect you from giving infection to someone else, if you happen to be inadvertently infected," Fauci said.
Since "anywhere from 20% to 45% of people" infected with Covid-19 don't show any symptoms, people have a "societal responsibility" to wear one at all times, especially those who are young, Fauci explained.
Last month, Vice President Mike Pence said that roughly half of all the new cases in the U.S. were from people under the age of 35 in states like Texas and Florida.
To get the "economy back," Fauci explained, the most important thing that local leaders — especially ones who are experiencing spikes of cases — is to make sure everyone understands the importance of abiding by guidelines, like wearing a mask and avoiding crowds.
These public health measures should be seen "as a vehicle or a gateway to opening the country again," and "not as an obstacle," he told Zuckerberg.
"If we do it in a measured way, I strongly believe we can turn this around in the southern states that are getting hit right now, and we can prevent it from happening in states that are still at that point of trying to open up," he added. "You've got to do it correctly. You can't jump over steps, which is very perilous when you think about rebound."
Fauci said the proof is the in pudding, as there is no reason the U.S. should be at 50,000 to 60,000 cases per day four months later. "[W]e're not doing something correctly," he said.
On Tuesday, Fauci was criticized by White House senior trade advisor Peter Navarro, who wrote an op-ed for USA Today, saying Fauci "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."
President Donald Trump commented on the criticism. "[Navarro] made a statement representing himself. He shouldn't be doing that," he told reporters, adding that "we're all on the same team, including Dr. Fauci."