The leading infectious disease expert in the US has warned coronavirus cases in the country could grow to 100,000 a day if Americans don't start following public health recommendations.
Citing recent video footage of people ignoring safety guidelines, Dr Anthony Fauci told told a Senate hearing that recent outbreaks are putting the entire nation at risk.
The US has the world's highest officially recorded death toll, with more than 126,000 deaths, and has seen more than 2.6 million confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak.
Asked to forecast the outcome of recent surges in some states, Fauci said he can’t make an accurate prediction but believes it will be “very disturbing.”
“We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” said Fauci, who is the infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.
The US is currently seeing around 40,000 new cases a day, with hospitals in hot spots being stretched to the limit and scrambling to add intensive care unit beds for an expected surge of cases in the coming weeks.
States such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California have reversed plans to open back up, closing bars, shutting beaches and putting limits on restaurant capacity, crowds at pools and at other events.
“Any time you have these reopenings, you’re depending on people to do the right things, to follow the rules. I think that’s where the weak spots come in,” said Dr Cindy Prins, a University of Florida epidemiologist. She warned that things are likely to get worse before they get better.
Florida alone has seen a huge spike in cases in recent days, with more than 8,000 cases per day on more than three occasions last week.