White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated on Tuesday that the number of Covid-19 cases in the US must fall “well below 10,000” per day for the country to achieve some semblance of life before the pandemic.
According to CNBC’s analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, the US has reported an average of nearly 83,500 new cases of Covid every day in the past week, up 14% from the week before. Fauci said in an interview at the 2021 STAT summit that the number of Covid cases may need to be reduced to 3,300 per day for the nation to gain control of the virus.
Daily US infections have not been below 10,000 since March 2020.
“I think if we can get significantly below 10,000, I think that will be the level that I think will be acceptable for us to return to a certain degree of normality,” Fauci said. “But again, I have to warn the audience, these are not definitive statements – these are just estimates.”
Covid cases in the United States stabilized at between 70,000 and 75,000 a day for nearly three weeks and then began to rise again towards the end of last week. Fauci said the incidences of stabilization at this high level were a sign that the nation was “really badly in control” of the pandemic, noting that the US could “face some problems” in the winter without proper public health precautions.
Some 60 million unvaccinated adults eligible for the vaccine are fueling the latest surge, Fauci said in an interview Monday night on News with Shepard Smith. He said on Tuesday that the boosters will help counter new cases, hospitalizations and weakening of the current Covid vaccines over time.
The more contagious delta variant will also thrive if the number of Covid cases remains high in the US, Fauci said, affecting both unvaccinated and immunocompromised vaccinated people.
“The unvaccinated are clearly very vulnerable, but as long as you have a high population dynamics of the virus, you will start to see breakthrough infections, even more so than we see now,” Fauci said.
But vaccines for the non-immunized, boosters for the vaccinated and indoor face masks could help contain the spread of the virus in the coming months and avoid outbreaks like those currently plaguing Europe, Fauci said. The continent has recorded an estimated 2.1 million new cases of Covid in the past week, with the World Health Organization citing declining mask use and social distancing.
Infections are on the rise in some regions of the United States more than others, according to Hopkins. Average weekly new cases per capita rose 31% and 19% in the Midwest and Northeast, respectively, as of Monday, compared with a 12% increase in the South and 8% in the West.
– CNBC Nate Rattner contributed to this report.