Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, on Sunday became the latest public health official to predict the U.S. will break 200,000 daily coronavirus cases – numbers last seen in January – as he warned unvaccinated Americans remain “sitting sucks” for the highly infectious Delta variant.
Collins said on Fox News Sunday that the latest surge of the virus is “going very steeply upward with no signs of having peaked out,” adding that he will be “surprised” if the U.S. doesn’t exceed 200,000 daily cases in the coming weeks.
Collins also underscored the particular danger the virus poses to 90 million Americans who are unvaccinated, calling them “sitting ducks,” and adding, “We’re in a world of hurt.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, has also predicted the U.S. will surpass 200,000 daily cases, as has Tom Frieden, the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. came close to that number late last month, reaching 194,608 cases on July 30, the highest number of cases since the winter surge on Jan. 16.
Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, predicted in a Meet The Press interview that the latest surge of the virus could continue for four to six weeks.
113%. That’s the increase in coronavirus deaths over the last two weeks, with a 65% increase in cases and a 69% increase in hospitalizations, according to data compiled by the New York Times.
The White House has said that just two states, Texas and Florida, accounted for 40% of new coronavirus hospitalizations last week. Collins said Sunday of bans on mask mandates put in place by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, “It’s really unfortunate that politics and polarization have gotten in the way of a simple public health measure.”
Amid surges of the virus in states with the lowest vaccination rates, unvaccinated Americans have flocked to get the shots in recent weeks. White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients said Thursday that vaccinations have tripled in Arkansas and quadrupled in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.