“It can be in the cards,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS.
But, he warned: “When we pull back and try to open up the country … we have to be prepared that when the infections start to rear their heads again,” the country has a way to aggressively and effectively “identify, isolate, contract trace and make sure we don’t have those spikes we have now.”
Moving toward normalcy will be gradual, and could be different by region, he said.
“Hopefully, by the time we get to the summer, we will have taken many steps in that direction” that would allow some normalization.
“We are not there yet,” Crystal Watson, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins’ public health school, told CNN on Thursday.
Easing social distancing too soon risks “a huge resurgence — and much worse than what we’ve seen already,” she told CNN’s “New Day.”
Economy takes heavy blows, while experts say social distancing is working
The Trump administration and health officials are navigating potentially competing circumstances: Hard economic news, as workers stay home; and indications that social distancing is helping to keep coronavirus deaths down.
The country set another record for coronavirus deaths in a day Wednesday — 1,922, according to data supplied by Johns Hopkins University.
Yet there is hope that social distancing is working, health experts say, with models projecting lower numbers of deaths by the time the pandemic subsides.
The US will reach its highest daily number of deaths on or around Sunday, according to modeling by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The peak of demand on hospital beds and ventilators is projected to hit on or around Saturday.
“What has been so remarkable, I think, to those of us that have been in the science field for so long,” Birx said, “is how important behavioral change is, and how amazing Americans are at adapting to and following through on these behavioral changes.”
CDC teams protecting areas with low transmission
Some areas have yet to see high transmission rates of the virus, and the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has deployed eight teams in hopes of keeping it that way, a federal official involved in the day-to-day coronavirus response told CNN.
The “community protection field teams” work directly with state and local health departments, but the official declined to say where the teams would be placed.
A second federal health official said at least one would be deployed to Wyoming.
“They have not had a lot of cases. You want to make sure it stays that way,” the senior federal health official told CNN when asked about Wyoming. “You work closely with them to make sure their public health capacity is working. Find cases, interrupt clusters, and do containment as opposed to mitigation,” the official said.
“If containment is achieved, you don’t have to have broader heavy duty mitigation restrictions.”
Philadelphia and D.C. expected to be new hotspots, official says
Philadelphia and Washington D.C. are expected to be new hotspots for the coronavirus pandemic, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said in a conference call with House Democrats Wednesday, according to a source on the call.
Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that he was briefed that Philadelphia is “an area of particular concern.”
“Our message to the people of the Philadelphia area is now more than ever, practice the social distancing so that Philadelphia and to some extent even Pittsburgh do not have to endure what other communities before them have had to endure,” Pence said.
Birx added that the Philadelphia metropolitan area is seeing 1,400 cases per day and the Baltimore/Washington, DC area is seeing a 15% positivity rate with 500 cases per day in DC and 200 cases per day in Baltimore.
Outbreaks in jails and prisons
A jail in Chicago is now the largest known source of coronavirus infections in the US outside of medical facilities, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.
The Cook County Sheriff’s office said Wednesday 251 detainees and 150 staff members of the Cook County Jail have tested positive for the virus. Of the detainees sickened in the outbreak, 22 are hospitalized for treatment and 31 others have been moved to a recovery facility.
“Jails in this country are petri dishes. They’re the government equivalent of nursing homes or cruise ships,” said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president. “It’s very difficult in a jail to maintain social distancing.”
In the California prison system, the number of inmates infected grew by more than seven times in a little more than a week and staff cases nearly tripled, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Wednesday.
“You have people in Italy dying, people in Spain dying, people in America dying, people are panic buying, people are concerned and people are scared,” Samuel Brown, an inmate at California State Prison, Los Angeles County told CNN. “And the truth of the matter is prisoners are people. So we’re also afraid.”
“And there’s a potential of us dying, too.”
States say measures are working
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson lauded the state’s targeted approach and residents’ social distancing measures Wednesday, noting the state has 2.5 hospitalizations per 100,000 people.
“That makes a difference in how we get out of this, how soon we get out of this and that we beat that curve and so I want to thank everybody for paying such close attention to it and doing a good job,” Hutchinson said.
And though Kentucky saw its largest increase in reported cases Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear said that the state’s low numbers relative to the rest of the nation show that social distancing measures are working.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday that although the state’s cases are still growing, the trajectory of growth is lower than anticipated. But, he said, the good news should not be a sign for residents to let their guards down when it comes to social distancing and stay at home orders or cases will spike right back up.
In California, with more than 18,700 cases, social distancing has slowed the doubling of cases in Santa Clara country from three days to two weeks or longer, said Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody.
“We cannot let up. Most of the people living in our community are still susceptible,” Cody stressed. “This is a marathon, maybe an ultra-marathon.”
CNN’s Holly Yan, Steve Almasy, Kevin Liptak, Paul P. Murphy, Shelby Lin Erdman, Nick Valencia and Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.