Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN that the United States is still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and that the population should prepare for the upcoming "challenge" of fall and winter.
While the spread of the virus appears to have slowed in many areas, it continues to increase, particularly in hotspots like Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee. According to the New York Times, there have been over 7 million confirmed cases in the country, with a 17 percent increase in the past 14 days. Meanwhile, over 202,000 individuals have died from COVID-19, a rise of 5 percent over the same time period. Since infections began, there hasn't been a single instance of a dramatic reduction in infections.
Because of these numbers, Fauci has concluded that the country is currently still in the first wave of the pandemic, unlike some countries, which saw a dramatic reduction before facing a second round of the virus.
Fauci warned that in the upcoming seasons, when the number of people infected with influenza peaks in the U.S., the country could face a difficult time.
"Rather than say, 'A second wave,' why don't we say, 'Are we prepared for the challenge of the fall and the winter?'" he said.
Influenza tends to increase its infection rates as people are forced indoors and in closer proximity to one another, especially with the increased use of circulated air in enclosed spaces. Typically the disease kills anywhere from 12,000 to 61,000 people each year. The coronavirus has more than tripled that amount in 9 months.
Scientists expect the coronavirus to have a similar uptick in the fall and winter months as the influenza virus does.
However, that doesn't mean Americans are doomed to a massive rise in cases.
"If we listen to the public health measures, not only would we diminish the effect of COVID-19, we might get away with a very, very light flu season if we combine that with getting the flu vaccine," Fauci said.
The guidelines Fauci referenced include using a face mask, washing hands, and maintaining social distance. He added that when individuals adhere to these rules, it's easier to avoid the "surges that inevitably will occur if you're not doing the kinds of public health measures that we're talking about."
Fauci also stressed that individuals should get the vaccine for the flu this year to help improve public immunity overall, and said that the government has ordered the highest number of vaccines ever in anticipation of the need.
Though a vaccination for the coronavirus hasn't been fully developed yet, President Donald Trump assured Americans that one would be ready for widespread use by April of 2021, as The Inquisitr previously reported.