The White House's top coronavirus adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci, has told the BBC that the US is facing a new surge in coronavirus cases because "we never got things down to baseline" – and that the country now risks an even greater outbreak unless it urgently gets things under control.
Drawing a comparison with other countries, he said the situation in the US has been “more problematic”, and that moves to reopen various states had led to a surge in cases of a kind that hasn’t been seen elsewhere.
“We got hit very badly, worse than any country, with regard to the number of cases and the number of deaths.
“The problem we’re facing now is that in an attempt to so-called reopen the government and get it back to some form of normality, we’re seeing very disturbing spikes in different individual states in the United States.
“So what we’ve seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that are well beyond the worst spikes that we’ve seen. That is not good news. We’ve got to get that under control, or we risk an even greater outbreak in the United States.”
Both confirmed Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations are rising fast in states across the south and southwest, in particular Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. These states have broken their own records many times over in the past week, and are taking varying steps to stop their reopening efforts – although most areas are refusing to close back down.
Dr Fauci told Today not only that reopening some states at this stage was premature, but that the US's lockdown had never had the controlling effect achieved by other European countries.
“When you look at the fact that we never got things down to baseline, where so many countries in Europe and the UK and other countries did – they closed down to the tune of about 97 per cent lockdown. In the United States, even in the most strict lockdown, only about 50 per cent of the country locked down.
“That allowed the perpetuation of the outbreak that we never did get under very good control."