Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious diseases expert, has warned that the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana need to get the COVID-19 spread under control or risk watching their transmission rates get out of control.
In an interview livestreamed on ABC News’ Instagram on Wednesday, Fauci, Director of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that on a conference call with governors a day earlier, he delivered the warning to the states’ governors in a private phone call on Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana are among those states starting to show a subtle increase in “percent positives” — the percentage of total tests with positive results, he added.
That is “a surefire hint that you may be getting into the same sort of trouble with those states that the southern states got into trouble with”, he said.
Fauci said he and Deborah Birx — the White House coordinator on the coronavirus task force — “made the point” in the call with Governors that these states need to take push residents to wear masks, avoid crowds, avoid the bars and wash hands.
“If we do that, hopefully we’ll prevent multiple other states from becoming just like the southern states,” he said.
Fauci also said on MSNBC that adherence to five principles could help stop coronavirus surges happening in states, including universal wearing of masks, avoiding crowds, physical distancing of at least six feet, typical hand hygiene and avoiding bars or closing them where possible.
“If we don’t start initiating rather strict adherence to the five principles I just mentioned,” Fauci said, adding: “What inevitably is going to happen is that the states that are not yet in trouble will likely get into trouble.”
Fauci’s warning came as the US’ COVID-19 death count has surpassed 150,000.
As of Thursday, the US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 4,424,806 and 150,676, respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins University.