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Dr. Anthony Fauci: We're in an elongated version of the first wave of the virus

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), discusses whether or not the United States is in the first, second, or third wave of COVID-19.

Video Transcript

ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, I look at it more as an elongated and an exacerbation of the original first wave. If you look at when we got hit badly, which was dominated early on by the Northeastern corridor, particularly the New York metropolitan area, the cases went way up, and then came back down to a baseline of about 20,000 cases.

So we never really cleared and got down to a very low baseline, which I would consider to be less than 10,000 per day, maybe just a couple of thousand per day. So we stayed at 20. Then, you remember, when we tried to quote, "open up the economy" again, and open up the country, there were several states that did that in a somewhat varied way. Some did not adhere very well to the proposed guidelines.

And what you saw, particularly along the southern states-- Florida, Georgia, Texas, Southern California, Arizona-- we started to see a peak that brought us up to around 70,000 per day. Then it came back down again, only to about 30,000 to 40,000, and was stuck at around 40,000 for several weeks, to if not a month or more.

And now, as we're getting into the cold weather, we came back up again to the worst that we've ever had, which was over 80,000 per day. So if you look at the chart, which you just showed, we've never really had waves, in the sense of up and then down to a good baseline. It's been up and wavering up and down til, now, we're at the highest baseline we've ever been, which is really quite precarious.

So you know, it's kind of semantics. You want to call the third wave or an extended first wave. No matter how you look at it, it's not good news.