Fauci Says Southern States Should Be Warning to Others Over Dangers of Opening Too Fast

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force and a leading immunologist, has said the consequences of not following re-opening guidelines can been seen in "plain sight" in Southern states that have had a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday, host George Stephanopoulos referenced President Donald Trump stating that some states should consider reopening, and asked Fauci whether a co-ordinated national strategy on this issue is needed.

Fauci said the reopening guidelines issued by the White House in April are the national strategy. One step involves seeing a downward trajectory of flu-like illnesses and COVID-like cases reported within a 14-day period before graduating to the next phase.

"Obviously," Fauci said, "some states are not doing that. We would hope that they all now rethink at what happens when you don't adhere to that. We've seen it in plain sight in the Southern states that surge. So we've got to get back to a very prudent advance from one stage to another."

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said outbreaks in states with major surges, including Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, may be "cresting and coming back down."

Following huge spikes which put strain on some hospitals, cases are largely remaining the same in Florida, Texas, and California, and decreasing in Arizona, according to The New York Times COVID-19 tracker. On Tuesday, Texas became the forth state to reach over 400,000 cases at 412,168, while Arizona has 165,994, Florida 441,969, and California 474,906.

Fauci said he was now concerned by other states, such as Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky, that are showing very early indications that the ratio of positive cases to tests is starting to rise.

"That's a surefire sign that you've got to really be careful," Fauci said, adding: "if you are trying to open up please do it in a way that's in accordance with the guidelines." Those should be married with four or five fundamental steps, he said, including wearing masks outside, social distancing, avoiding crowds, closing bars, and practicing hand hygiene.

By following those steps, Fauci said he thinks "we can prevent the surges that we've seen in the southern states, because we just can't afford yet again another surge."

Almost six months since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern, the U.S. is the country with the most confirmed cases, at over 4.3 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. also has the highest death toll, nearing 150,000 in a worldwide total of over 660,000.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on June 30, 2020 in Washington,DC. Getty