The top U.S. infectious disease expert said Sunday that the country is facing “some pain and suffering” with the surging delta variant of the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, told ABC’s “This Week” show, “Things are going to get worse,” and laid the blame on millions of people who have not been vaccinated against the virus.
As the number of new cases has risen sharply in recent weeks, some people who have not been vaccinated say they now are considering getting shots. But millions more are saying that for one reason or another they have no intention of getting inoculated no matter how many health officials urge them to do so.
Fauci, who almost daily prods Americans to get vaccinated, said, “You are protecting yourself from getting seriously ill and perhaps dying. The unvaccinated are allowing the propagation of the virus.”
The U.S. is already recording 70,000 new coronavirus cases a day, up nearly 60,000 over the last six weeks, to a level not seen since February. The caseload is being fueled by the delta variant first discovered in India. The coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.
Some disease trackers are predicting even bigger caseloads, to 140,000 to 300,000 new infections later in August as the highly transmissible delta variant spreads throughout the United States.
Scientists now say that even those already vaccinated can spread the variant, prompting the government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, to issue a new directive last week. The CDC said that those already vaccinated should again wear face masks in indoor public settings in parts of the country where the number of new cases is spreading the fastest.
The directive has drawn rebukes from some Republican governors who have relaxed coronavirus restrictions in their states in recent months and voiced opposition to new face masking orders or any directive for mandatory vaccinations. Biden last week ordered more than 2 million federal workers to get vaccinated before returning to offices in the coming months or face frequent tests to prove they do not have the coronavirus.
Doug Ducey, the Republican governor in the southwestern state of Arizona, dismissed the CDC directive, saying, "Arizona does not allow mask mandates, vaccine mandates, vaccine passports or discrimination in schools based on who is or isn’t vaccinated. We’ve passed all of this into law, and it will not change.”
Ducey said the CDC directive “is just another example” of the Biden administration’s “inability to effectively confront the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Fauci said he disagreed with the Republican officials’ complaints that the new masking recommendations were overkill. He rejected complaints by those who refuse to get vaccinations and have said their individual liberties are being eroded.
“We are in a very serious health challenge,” Fauci said. “The fact is that if you get infected [and pass on the virus to others] you are encroaching on their individual rights.”