Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has admitted the U.S. is "not even at half-time" in the fight against coronavirus and that more time is required for the country to turn the corner against the pandemic.
Speaking to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's Basketball and Beyond show on SiriusXM Radio Thursday, Fauci was quizzed about the U.S. response to the outbreak and asked to break it down into a basketball context.
"We're not even at halftime, Coach K. We're just fighting it out," Fauci, a prominent member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, said.
"What would be really nice, to continue the analogy, is that if we can just hold our own and then when we get back in the second half, just come out, like, blazing. And that's what we really need to do; otherwise, this stuff is going to be really, really very harmful to us as a society."
As of Friday morning, over 245,000 cases have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally in the world. More than 6,000 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 9,200 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.
Over 53,000 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over one million confirmed cases globally, with almost 212,000 recoveries.
Last month, Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, another physician on Trump's coronavirus task force, predicted that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus, as the virus spreads like wildfire across the country.
On Thursday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo warned the state will run out of ventilators in less than a week. Along with California, New Jersey, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas and Tennessee, New York is one of 41 states to have issued "stay at home" orders for their residents and speaking to CNN on Thursday, Fauci urged the remaining states to follow suit.
During his chat with Coach K, he acknowledged coordinating the response was made harder by the fact different areas could expect a spike in cases at different times.
"The game is going to go on for several weeks, Coach K," he explained. "The issue is that we have a large country and we have different metropolitan areas.
"We are not yet at the point where we're turning the corner and we're coming around the bend and coming down as a country.
"There are some cities that have not yet even begun to spike and it's our absolute responsibility to make sure that in those cities that people understand what they need to do to prevent that explosive spike that New York City has seen, that New Orleans has seen, that parts of New Jersey have seen."
Fauci, who last week appeared in video Q&A with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, then warned that once the current outbreak was brought under control, attention should immediately shift towards preparing for the next wave, which experts believe could occur as early as this fall.
"We can never allow it to gain the foothold that it did this first time around," he explained.
"Whether we do that with better preparation for testing for identification with a vaccine and even hopefully with some treatments that might actually work, and we'll probably know in the next several months whether we do have any treatments that work."