Fauci: US going in 'wrong direction' as coronavirus cases rise

The infectious-diseases expert says he wouldn't be surprised if new cases hit 100,000 per day.

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Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, wears a Washington Nationals mask during a Senate committee hearing to discuss efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he's very concerned about the rise in coronavirus cases in the US.

"Clearly, we are not in total control right now," Fauci said on Tuesday, adding that "we're going in the wrong direction." Fauci also said that though he couldn't estimate exactly how many people will be infected or die from COVID-19, he would "not be surprised" if the number of new cases went up to 100,000 per day.

Fauci was testifying Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee along with other health officials on the coronavirus pandemic and the country's progress toward returning to work and school. Also at the hearing were Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for Health and Human Services; Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration; and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe. There are now over 10 million confirmed cases globally, with more than 2 million in the US, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. 

Several states in the US are seeing surges in COVID-19 cases, with the country topping 40,000 new daily cases in recent days, according to Johns Hopkins. Some states, including Texas and Florida, have paused or rolled back reopening plans as the number of new cases rises.

During the committee hearing, Redfield and Fauci also encouraged Americans, especially young people, to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks or face coverings.

"We're not defenseless against this disease. We have powerful tools at our disposal: social distancing, wear a face cover in public and be diligent about frequent hand washing," Redfield said. "It is critical that we take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings."

The CDC recently expanded its list of coronavirus symptoms as well as its guidance on who's at risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19, saying that a "substantial number of Americans" face an increased risk.

Health officials on Tuesday also talked with lawmakers about possible measures for reopening schools in the fall and the need for a COVID-19 vaccine