Coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a stark warning on Tuesday to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, telling them he wouldn't be surprised if the US sees new cases of coronavirus rising to a level of 100,000 a day.
"We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around and so I am very concerned," Fauci told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during a hearing on the pandemic on Tuesday.
Fauci expressed dismay over people congregating in crowds and not wearing masks and inadequate attention being paid to guidelines on reopening.
"We're going to continue to be in a lot of trouble, and there's going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop," he said.
The US reported more than 40,000 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, its biggest daily jump yet.
Asked if the pandemic is under control, Fauci said, "I am not satisfied with what's going on because we are going in the wrong direction if you look at the curves of the new cases, so we've really got to do something about that and we need to do it quickly," adding, "Clearly we are not in total control right now."
Fauci said that he can't make an accurate prediction of the number of cases and deaths the US will see before the pandemic is over, but said, "It's going to be very disturbing, I will guarantee you that."
Fauci and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield stressed the importance of wearing masks during testimony before a Senate committee on Tuesday, with Fauci saying "we recommend masks for everyone".
"Masks are extremely important," Fauci said, adding, "It's people protecting each other. Anything that furthers the use of masks, whether it's giving out free masks or any other mechanism, I am thoroughly in favor of."
Redfield singled out younger Americans in particular to deliver a message that they are not exempt from the necessity of wearing a mask.
"It is critical that we all take the personal responsibility to slow the transmission of Covid-19 and embrace the universal use of face coverings," he said. "Specifically, I'm addressing the younger members of our society, the Millennials and the Generation Zs -- I ask those that are listening to spread the word."
Fauci indicated that he would support an effort to increase the production of high-quality masks in the US and distribute them free of charge to the American public in response to a question from Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
More than half of all states are seeing a rise in cases, and Florida, Texas and Arizona are getting hit particularly hard. Texas has begun scaling back its reopening, and beaches in Florida have closed for the upcoming holiday weekend.