Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the White House's top doctor on the coronavirus task force, has cautioned that a second wave of the coronavirus in "inevitable" in the United States. As the country surpassed a confirmed 1 million cases Wednesday, Fauci, speaking in a Tuesday interview with the Economic Club, warned that he does not foresee the virus going away anytime soon.
"It's not going to disappear from the planet, which means as we get into next season, in my mind, it's inevitable that we will have a return of the virus, or maybe it never even went away. When it does, how we handle it will determine our fate," he said, adding that identifying the infected, isolating them, and contact tracing are crucial. "If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well. If we don't do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter."
Fauci's words have been echoed by a number of other health professionals in recent days as the world continues its efforts to produce a vaccine, something that could take many more months. Speaking with the Washington Post just last week, Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), warned that second, deadlier wave of the coronavirus could hit the United States next winter. The severity of that wave, he said, would largely be due to it coinciding with the seasonal flu.
"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," he said. "When I've said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don't understand what I mean. We're going to have a flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time."
White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has also acknowledged the possibility of a second wave. Speaking during a press briefing last week, Birx said that although another wave is possible in the fall and winter, she believed the country will be better prepared.
"I don't know if it will be worse, I think this has been pretty bad," she said in part. "I believe that we'll have early warning signals both from our surveillance that we've been talking about in these vulnerable populations. We're going to continue that surveillance from now all the way through to be able to give us that early warning signal."
The U.S. on Tuesday officially surpassed the 1 million mark, with confirmed cases continuing to grow into Wednesday. Fatalities in the country have surpassed 58,000. Despite those numbers, a number of states have begun to lift stay at home orders and reopen their economies.