Fauci warns of COVID-19 surge, opposes Trump’s response

‘It’s not a good situation,’ said Fauci

President Donald Trump’s repeated stance that the United States is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus global pandemic has increased concerns among the government’s top health experts.

Many have warned that the country is heading towards a long and potentially deadly winter with “an unprepared government unwilling to make tough choices,” according to The Washington Post.

Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, warned in a wide-ranging interview late Friday of what’s to come for the country in the winter months during the pandemic.

“We’re in for a whole lot of hurt. It’s not a good situation,” Fauci said. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”

Read More: Fauci advocates mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge across US

Fauci’s stern warnings come in response to the number of maskless Trump rallies across the country, and cities experiencing record surges in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations. 13 battleground states have reported rising coronavirus cases including Michigan, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. The committee is examining the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images)

Fauci said the United States needed to make an “abrupt change” in its public health practices and behaviors in response to the virus. He said the country could surpass 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day and predicted fatalities in the next coming weeks.

His response comes as the country hit a new daily record Friday with more than 98,000 confirmed cases, according to The Washington Post.

During his campaign stop in Waterford Township, Mich., Trump downplayed the virus and mocked those who take it seriously, saying that some doctors record more COVID-19 deaths than others because they receive more money.

Read More: White House vetted celebrities to help president ‘defeat coronavirus despair’

“I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry but everybody dies of COVID,’ ” Trump said.

By contrast, the Biden-Harris campaign has taken strides to follow protocols by wearing masks in public and having socially distanced events. Harris cancelled travel for several days when two people who travelled with her tested positive in October, as reported by NPR. When asked about the difference in approaches, Fauci commented that Biden’s campaign “is taking it

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Alabama official with COVID opposes mask mandate

Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said Thursday that he remains opposed to mandatory mask orders despite being diagnosed with COVID-19, even though he encourages people to wear one.

The Republican lieutenant governor announced Wednesday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. He said he sought a test after learning someone in his Sunday school group had COVID-19.

“I have always encouraged mask-wearing, and I wear one in my daily life, Ainsworth said in a statement, adding that: “At the same time, I believe in personal responsibility and think everyone has the right to make their own choices regarding their health.”

Ainsworth has been critical of the state’s COVID-19 response under Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. In March, he criticized what he said at the time was the state’s slow response to prepare for a possible “tsunami of hospital patients.” But he has also been critical of the state’s mandatory mask order. He said last month that “masks should be voluntary, not mandatory.”

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— France extends curfew to 38 regions because of coronavirus surge

— African health officials expect WHO distribution of rapid virus tests

— Oxford vaccine trial continues amid death report

— Britain offering financial help for bars, pubs and restaurants struggling because of restrictions due to the coronavirus.

— Czech Republic enters second lockdown to avoid health system collapse. New measures include closing stores, shopping malls and hotels.

— Photographer in Dubai providing free photo shoots to laid-off expats forced to leave the skyscraper-studded Persian Gulf city because of the pandemic.

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Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

Tallahassee, Fla. — Florida plans to more closely scrutinize deaths attributed to the coronavirus, as the state Department of Health notes some people listed as COVID-19 fatalities died months after testing positive.

The state will not backtrack to reexamine the more than 16,000 deaths attributed to the virus, but rather take a closer look at deaths going forward, said Fred Piccolo, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking Thursday.

And the state won’t immediately discount those who tested positive for coronavirus and died weeks afterwards, recognizing the virus may have caused damage that contributed to the death, he added.

Florida reported more than 5,500 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, raising the seven-day average in daily reported cases to about 3,300. That’s about 1,000 more per day since the beginning of the month.

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Gov. Kristi Noem has insisted South Dakota is excelling in its handling of the pandemic, although the state surpassed 9,000 active coronavirus cases and matched an all-time high for deaths reported in a day.

The state ranks second in the country in new infections per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University data. There were about 1,036 new cases per 100,000 people in South Dakota, meaning that about one in every 97 people in the state has tested

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White House Opposes Expanded Virus Testing, Complicating Stimulus Talks

“No testing scheme, no test is perfect. There will always be people who go undetected,” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University who has researched and written about herd immunity. “The best way to protect the most vulnerable is to reduce the amount of virus that’s in the population that can get through all of those testing schemes and cause destruction.”

Dr. Atlas’s position has been challenged by medical advisers around him who have backgrounds in infectious disease response, revealing a significant rift in the White House over the right approach. Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, has pushed for aggressive, broad testing even among young and healthy people, often clashing with Dr. Atlas in meetings.

“I would always be happy if we had 100 percent of students tested weekly,” Dr. Birx said on Wednesday in an appearance at Penn State University, “because I think testing changes behavior.”

Dr. Atlas at one point influenced the administration’s efforts to install new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of Covid-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus, upsetting Dr. Birx and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director.

The administration’s efforts to fund federal and state testing have long been fraught. In July, as administration officials and top Senate Republicans clashed over the contours of their initial $1 trillion proposal, the White House initially balked at providing billions of dollars to fund coronavirus testing and help federal health agencies.

Since the early days of the pandemic, Mr. Romer has argued for a wide-scale testing program, costing as much as $100 billion. He had hoped to persuade Dr. Atlas that if officials could quickly identify and isolate people carrying the virus, they would slow its spread and allow normal economic activity to resume more quickly.

In his email, sent to Dr. Atlas’s personal account, Mr. Romer proposed additional testing and isolation efforts that could allow far more Americans to return to work and shopping, generating economic activity that would be 10 or 100 times larger than the cost of the testing program itself.

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