(Reuters) – The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Monday said states with high coronavirus case counts should reconsider imposing lockdown restrictions, emphasizing the need to get cases to a low baseline before the fall flu season.
In some states with moderate case counts, experts are seeing “that same insidious increase in percent positive that we had seen and pointed out … in states like Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota and others”, Fauci said during an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Fauci said last week that he was seeing signs the surge of COVID-19 cases could be peaking in the South and West while other areas were on the cusp of new outbreaks. Those states should consider pausing or rolling back reopening efforts, though they don’t necessarily need to revert to full lockdown, he said.
Arkansas, California, Florida, Montana, Oregon and Texas each reported record spikes in fatalities last week.
Fauci said that it is crucial that the outbreak be contained before autumn, when influenza cases are likely to spike alongside COVID-19 and more people begin to move indoors, increasing the risk of contagion.
Fauci also cautioned that although data suggests that young children do not get seriously ill from COVID-19, they are still capable of getting infected and spreading the virus.
President Donald Trump has made school reopenings for classroom instruction part of his re-election campaign but some teachers have resisted the push, arguing opening schools could put adults at risk of serious illness.
Fauci added that he remains cautiously optimistic that a vaccine could be available for the virus before year end, but that companies should refrain from issuing statements about ongoing clinical trials until there is enough data to judge whether vaccines are safe an effective.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru and Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Aurora Ellis)