Dr. Fauci Says This Is the Sign That We'll Have Another COVID Surge

The top infectious disease expert has reason to believe that it could be about to happen.

Daily new COVID case numbers in the U.S. have come a long way since hitting their peak in early January. But as numbers have begun to plateau in recent weeks, health officials including chief White House health adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, are cautioning that the coming months could still see another spike in infections. During an appearance on CBS's Face the Nation on March 7, he explained that there's a sign we'll likely experience another COVID surge based on what we've already seen happen in the past. Read on to find out what warning signs have him concerned, and for more on when we can finally get back to normal, check out This Is When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say.

Fauci says daily COVID cases are still too high to get comfortable.

A group of doctors and nurses wearing face masks stand socially distanced while outside.
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Fauci began his Face the Nation interview with a question about the likelihood of a fourth wave of coronavirus cases hitting the U.S. He explained that certain conditions that preceded previous surges and recent developments worldwide have him concerned that another spike could be on the horizon.

"Historically, if you look back at the different surges we've had, when they come down and then start to plateau at a very high level… plateauing at a level of 60 to 70,000 new cases per day is not an acceptable level. That is really very high," he cautioned about the current daily rate. "And if you look at what happened in Europe a few weeks ago, they're usually a couple of weeks ahead of us in these patterns, they were coming down too, then they plateaued. And over the last week or so, they've had about a 9 percent increase in cases." And for news from Fauci on getting vaccinated, Dr. Fauci Says Your COVID Vaccine Protects You For This Long.

He said that now was not the time to remove public safety precautions.

Young woman is wearing protective face mask while coronavirus is around. She is sitting on a bus or train. Photo is taken over the shoulder of another person. The woman in the main image is looking outside the window.
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Fauci went on to argue that the progress made in bringing down cases over January and February was in danger of being erased if state officials, like those in Texas and Mississippi, continue to roll back current safety measures too soon.

"The message we're saying is that we do want to come back carefully and slowly about pulling back on mitigation methods," he cautioned. "But don't turn that switch on and off because it really would be risky to have yet again another surge, which we do not want to happen because we're plateauing at quite a high level. Sixty to 70,000 new infections per day is quite high." And for more on areas of concern, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said That He's Worried About COVID in These 2 States.

Fauci said "worrisome" new variants could also help fuel another surge.

A group of three young people wearing face masks and winter coats stand in a line.
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Fauci was then asked about the potential threat of highly contagious COVID variants contributing to a future surge, including the recently discovered B.1.526 "New York strain" of the virus. He explained that even though the new variants had shown they could elude immunity provided by prior infection or vaccinations, it was still possible to stop them from creating a new outbreak using some very familiar methods.

"The one thing you want to do is to make sure you do not allow that to continue to spread," he said. "Two ways to do that [are to] get people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible, and above all, maintain the public health measures that we talk about so often, the masking, the physical distancing, and the avoiding of congregate settings, particularly indoors." And for more COVID news sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Fauci previously said cases need to come down much more before rolling back restrictions.

A caring mother is adjusting her teenager son's COVID mask
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Fortunately, Fauci's recent forecasts haven't all been dire. During a March 4 interview on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper, the chief White House COVID adviser laid down a clearer timeline of when it would be acceptable to start dialing back the pubic health precautions that have been a part of pandemic life for the past year—including how low new cases would have to drop to see changes.

"Well, I wouldn't want to see a light switch go on and off with regard to restrictions, Jake," he clarified. "I would like to see, as we get the level of virus in the community to a very low level, well, well below the 60,000 to 70,000 new infections, somewhere—I will just pick a number, even though there's not a good model there yet—but I would say less than 10,000, and maybe even considerably less than that." And for another surge prediction, check out This Is Exactly When the Next COVID Surge Will Happen, Expert Says.

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Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
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