Fauci warned the US is still in the 'first wave' of its coronavirus outbreak as states report record cases after lifting lockdown

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Fauci warned the US is still in the 'first wave' of its coronavirus outbreak as states report record cases after lifting lockdown
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appears at the White House, in Washington DC, April 1, 2020.Alex Brandon/AP
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the US is still in its first wave of the coronavirus as multiple states record their highest-ever daily new case totals.
  • Fauci told The Wall Street Journal: "People keep talking about a second wave. We're still in a first wave."
  • Many countries which appear to have brought the virus under control are now worried about a possible second wave, where cases peak again.
  • Fauci's comments come as nine states announced record single-day increases in cases or were tied with their previous record on Tuesday after they eased restrictions aimed at slowing the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious-disease expert, warned that the country's coronavirus outbreak is still in its first wave, as some states recorded their highest-ever single day new cases as they ease restrictions.

"People keep talking about a second wave," Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Wall Street Journal.

"We're still in a first wave."

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He noted that many people appear to be returning to normal life as states ease lockdowns, and pointed to the increased risk that brings for the virus spread.

"When I look at the TV and I see pictures of people congregating at bars when the location they are indicates they shouldn't be doing that, that's very risky," he said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, experts have warned of a potential "second wave" of the virus, where cases grow and peak again, after the outbreak appears to have been brought under control.

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Some countries, including China — where the outbreak began — New Zealand, and some European countries are now monitoring and testing for new cases, fearing that a second wave will come even as the virus spread now seems to have been mostly stopped.

But in the US, nine states announced record single-day increases in cases or were tied with their previous record on Tuesday.

Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Oregon all announced their highest number of new cases on Tuesday, while five other states also reported high case numbers.

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'We never made it out of the first wave'

And cases are rising in other states.

Governors in some states, like Florida, say the increased cases will not result in new lockdown measures.

But Oregon temporarily paused its reopening on June 11, after cases in the state rose.

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Other experts agree with Fauci that these record caseloads are part of the US's first wave of the virus, and not a second wave.

Dr. David Weber, medical director of hospital epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill, told NBC News: "We never made it out of the first wave."

And Loren Lipworth, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told NBC: "A second wave implies that the first wave has disappeared and reappeared."

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"I don't think that is what we're seeing here in the US."

Fauci's warnings come after comments he made earlier in June, before the states reported their record cases.

Fauci then described the coronavirus as his "worst nightmare" and said it had "devastated the world," but warned that "it isn't over yet."

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But US Vice President Mike Pence claimed in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal this week that fears over a second wave are "overblown," and said "we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy."

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