The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said that some states haven't learned the lessons that should have been learned when cities such as New York experienced major outbreaks.
According to Fauci, embracing "fundamental public health measures" would be enough to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19 and even allow businesses to reopen safely.
However, there is a "is a very disparate response to that," which is why the number of cases has surged across the country, Fauci added.
The nation's top infectious diseases expert explained that this is why he has not yet expressed support for a national mandate, arguing that it would be better to accomplish universal mask-wearing with local and state authorities.
Insisting on a national mask mandate, Fauci said, would "engender a bit of pushback from an already reluctant populace that doesn't like to be told what to do."
"So you might wind up having the countereffect of people pushing back even more," he explained, adding that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary some Americans still believe COVID-19 poses no threat to them.
Fauci said that he "was stunned by the fact that in certain areas of the country, even though the devastation of the outbreak is clear, some people are still saying it's fake news."
"That is a very difficult thing to get over. Why people still insist that something that's staring you right in the face is not real."Fauci noted that tremendous progress has been made when it comes to vaccine development, stressing that independent scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) make their decisions based on empirical data.
If a majority of Americans takes the vaccine, the NIAID director concluded, "we'll start approaching normal" in the third or fourth quarter of 2021.
Fauci has repeatedly called on the public to respect expert recommendations. Earlier this week, he said that everyone should "think twice" about traveling this holiday season.
Fauci said that his family will have Thanksgiving over the video conferencing service Zoom, stressing that indoor gatherings could drive another nationwide surge in cases.
Nonetheless, even politicians have disregarded these warnings. President Donald Trump has long dismissed the severity of the outbreak and Democrats like California Gov. Gavin Newsom have attended private parties.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 11 million coronavirus cases have been recorded in the United States and nearly 250,000 Americans have died from the disease.