Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Thursday that while the United States has an “independent spirit,” it was time for people to “do what they’re told” by health experts and government officials to help bring down surging coronavirus numbers.
“I was talking with my U.K. colleagues who are saying the U.K. is similar to where we are now, because each of our countries have that independent spirit,” Fauci said while speaking at Washington National Cathedral. “I can understand that, but now is the time to do what you’re told.”
Fauci dismissed the notion that scientists are “authoritarian,” saying that it’s unfortunate that science has become “lumped into politics.”
“All of a sudden science gets caught in a lot of this divisiveness,” he said.
Fauci’s comments come as the United States has seen rising coronavirus cases for approximately six weeks with cases starting to jump dramatically over the last two weeks. Daily deaths, which usually lag one to two weeks behind spikes in new cases, are also starting to increase.
“Case numbers are spiking across most of the United States, leading to dire warnings about full hospitals, exhausted health care workers and potential lockdowns,” The New York Times reported. “As conditions worsened and winter approached, the mayors of Chicago and St. Louis imposed stricter limits on gatherings. In both rural counties and major cities, infections continued rising to fearsome new levels with no end in sight.”
The New York Times’ database showed that states in the Midwest were getting hit the hardest with new cases.
“Fourteen states, mostly in the Midwest, had reported record numbers of hospitalizations by midday Thursday as the seven-day average number of cases reached highs in 23 states, from Nevada to Maryland,” The Washington Post reported. “The rapid rise in hospitalizations could foreshadow a long period of rising deaths, said Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration. Although improvements in care have pushed the mortality rate below 1 percent in the United States, 1,549 people died of the virus Wednesday, the highest toll since April.”
Fauci did raise hope that vaccines that were spearheaded by the Trump administration through Operation Warp Speed will put a major dent in the pandemic, which originated in China.
“Certainly it’s not going to be pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” Fauci said. “Putting it to rest doesn’t mean eradicating it. I doubt we’re going to eradicate this, I think we need to plan that this is something we may need to maintain control over chronically, it may be something that becomes endemic that we have to just be careful about.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.