National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Topline: Top U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said the country will have “millions” of coronavirus cases and that as many as 200,000 people could die as a result during a Sunday CNN appearance that comes one day before the federal government’s first social distancing guidelines are set to expire.
- Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “we are going to have millions of cases.”
- “I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases…excuse me, deaths,” Fauci also said.
- Fauci added that he “didn’t want to be held” to that number, and that “I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target.”
- President Trump has said he wants social distancing guidelines relaxed and the country to be reopened by Easter, but Fauci said that it would be “a matter of weeks” and depend on the availability of rapid testing and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
- The number appears to be a downward revision from Fauci’s March 15 CNN appearance, where he said it was “possible” millions in the U.S. could die from the disease in a worst-case scenario.
- Fauci, the scientific voice of reason on the coronavirus task force, has previously said when Trump makes incorrect statements about the disease: “I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.”
Big number: Over 124,000. That’s how many people in the U.S. are infected with the coronavirus—it’s the country with the highest number of infections in the entire world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Key background: Fauci, 79, has been a key player in the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Fauci has served under six presidents and led previous federal efforts to battle SARS, HIV, Ebola, swine flu and MERS (and “now Trump,” as The New Yorker notes). The Washington Post reported that Fauci, when asked what keeps him awake at night, would always answer: “A respiratory-borne illness that’s easily spread from person to person that has both a high degree of morbidity and mortality”—a statement that applies to the coronavirus.