White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that the United States was in a "bad position" as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations increase in many parts of the nation.
Fauci said the US never brought its Covid-19 cases to sufficiently low levels after the initial surge in New York and other states earlier this year. New cases had peaked at around 31,000 cases per day in April before steadily declining to around 20,000 cases per day by the end of May. After Memorial Day, new cases began climbing again, rising to about 70,000 cases per day in July before rising to about 40,000 cases in September. They rose again and are now reaching record levels, Fauci said.
"This is a bad position," said the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases during an interview with JAMA. "When you look at the country and the color of the heat map, when you see red dots that indicate that this part of the county, the city … is on an upward trend in some cases … all of this puts us in a precarious state Situation situation. "
"We should have been way down on baseline and daily cases and we are not," he said.
Fauci's comments came after the U.S. reported its third straight record in average daily Covid-19 cases. According to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the average new US cases hit an all-time high of 71,832 on Tuesday, beating the record set on Monday. The numbers are based on a weekly average to compensate for fluctuations in daily reporting.
Hospital stays are also increasing. According to a CNBC analysis of data collected by the Covid Tracking Project, hospital admissions in Covid-19 increased by 5% or more in 37 states on Tuesday. 15 states reached record highs in hospital stays. The surge in hospital stays could be especially dire as flu season approaches and more people seek treatment, medical experts warn.
Some parts of the country are relying on further restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker announced this Tuesday Chicago restaurants and bars will have to close their interiors on Friday. El Paso, Texas, put in place an earlier curfew to protect "overwhelmed and exhausted" hospitals and workers.
Fauci advocated the use of face masks on Wednesday, saying that using them "makes a difference" while keeping your distance from others, avoiding crowds, and planning outdoor activities.
Public health officials say the US may not go "back to normal" until there is a widely available vaccine.
Four US-backed companies are in late-stage trials testing potential vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. But Fauci said Wednesday that he doesn't expect a vaccine to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration until January at the earliest.
"Could be January, could be later. Who knows?" Said Fauci.
– CNBC's Noah Higgins-Dunn contributed to this report.