CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - As the U.S. closes in on 200,000 coronavirus-related deaths with an upcoming flu season raising alarms among medical experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. needs to “hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy.”
Speaking on a virtual panel for Harvard Medical School, Fauci compared the Nation’s COVID-19 response to the rest of the world, explaining that “we did not shut down nearly as much.”
“The United States did not close down to the extent that those countries did,” Fauci said, referring to other hard-hit countries in Europe while showing graphs of varying responses to the ongoing pandemic.
“It’s really quite frankly depressing to see that because you know what's ahead,” he said.
The grim forecast from the nation’s leading infectious disease expert came amid more than 192,000 deaths in the United States from the deadly virus as of Sept. 11, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
“We've been through this before,” Fauci said. “Don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don't try and look at the rosy side of things.”
Last month, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield warned Americans that the country could be facing “the worst fall” season due to the potentially deadly combination of the novel coronavirus, the seasonal flu, and people who aren’t abiding by necessary COVID-19 preventative measures.
During an Aug. 14 interview with WebMD’s chief medical officer Dr. John Whyte, Redfield discussed the importance of COVID-19 preventative measures, including wearing a mask, social distancing, washing one's hands and avoiding large crowds.
“You do those four things, it will bring this outbreak down,” Redfield said. “But if we don't do that, as I said last April, this could be the worst fall from a public health perspective we've ever had.”
Redfield said his biggest concern is a combined wave of two viruses, the novel coronavirus and the flu, hitting Americans during the worst public health crisis in decades.
“We’re going to have flu in the fall, and either one of those by themselves can stress certain hospital systems,” Redfield said. “I've seen hospital intensive care units stretch by a severe flu season, and clearly, we've all seen it recently with COVID.”
The CDC director also stressed the need for individuals to get a flu vaccine.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.