Dr. Anthony Fauci Refuses to Say Coronavirus Pandemic Is 'Under Control': 'That'd Be a False Statement…We Are Struggling'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, predicted that the coronavirus infection rate and death toll in the coming weeks will be "shocking to some," and refused to say that America has the situation "under control."

"We're going to continue to see an escalation, also we should hope that within a week, maybe a little bit more, we'll start to see a flattening of the curve and coming down," Fauci told CBS News' Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan on Sunday. "The mitigation ... is absolutely key to the success of that. So, on the one hand, things are going to get bad and we need to be prepared for that, things are going to be shocking to some. It certainly is really disturbing to see that."

Brennan asked the doctor if he's saying that "despite the deaths that we may see, that mitigation is working and you do have this outbreak under control?"

"I will not say we have it under control Margaret," Fauci responded. "That'd be a false statement. We are struggling to get it under control and that's the issue that's at hand right now."

"We need to be clear that even though mitigation is working, we're still going to see that tail off of deaths," he continued. "The first thing we want to look for is to see on a daily basis a number of new cases start to stabilize."

"We've seen that in Italy," Fauci added. "We're going to hopefully see that in New York very soon, and that's the first sign of that plateau coming down."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, on Sunday said the U.S. is "struggling" to get the coronavirus outbreak under control. CBS/Screenshot

On Sunday afternoon, the U.S. had confirmed more than 330,000 positive cases of the coronavirus, with over 21,000 new infections being added in the past 24 hours. The total number of domestic deaths caused by the novel virus climbed 1,089 to 9,540.

Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, estimated last week that between 100,000 to 240,000 individuals are expected to die domestically from the virus, even with social distancing measures in place. If the strict policies were not implemented, the death toll could sit anywhere between 1 million to 2.2 million, they said.

The CDC has recommended that the American public begin wearing face coverings in public settings to limit the spread of the virus, but President Donald Trump on Friday said that he will not be wearing one because his job requires him to meet various people.

"I just don't want to wear one myself," the president told reporters. "It's a recommendation, they recommend it. I'm feeling good."

"Somehow, sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don't know," he added. "Somehow, I don't see it for myself. I just don't."

Fauci on Sunday said he does wear a mask in public spaces. "If I go out which I really don't do very much because of my life as it is now, I would and do," he explained. "If you have a situation where you don't have control over that six foot distance, you wear a mask."

Watch Fauci's interview on Face the Nation below: