Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has issued a warning to residents of Illinois and six other states not to lower their guard over Labor Day weekend to avoid an increase in coronavirus cases.
“There are several states that are at risk for increases, to name a few, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci said in an interview with Bloomberg this week.
“Those states are starting to see an increase in the positive percentage of their tests; that generally predicts that there will be a problem,” he added, according to Bloomberg.
Illinois health officials on Thursday reported 1,360 new coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths.
Those figures brought state totals to 240,003 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with at least 8,115 deaths in all 102 counties.
Illinois labs reported 40,795 tests performed in the last 24 hours. With the new positive cases on Thursday, the state’s 7-day positivity rate stands at 4.4%, slightly higher than in recent weeks.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, warned in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday that the US has seen increases in coronavirus cases after the summer vacation weekends.
“The problem we are facing right now is that we are entering… into Labor Day weekend and we know from previous experience that when it comes down to the holiday weekends, July 4, Memorial Day, there is a tendency for people to be careless with regard to public health measures, ”Fauci said.
“So I really want to take this opportunity almost to ask the people of this country to realize that we still need to embrace this and suppress these kinds of waves that we have seen,” he continued.
“You can have a nice weekend, but you can do a couple of fundamental things that we talk about all the time,” added Fauci. “Masks, distance, avoiding crowds, outdoor activities preferable than indoors, washing hands.”
The United States now has more than 6.1 million virus cases and more than 188,000 COVID-related deaths, according to a tally by NBC News.