‘Hunker down,’ Fauci urges; coronavirus may worsen over fall, winter

The coronavirus pandemic will likely worsen in the coming months, according to the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who is warning Americans to "hunker down this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy.”

“I keep looking at that curve and I get more depressed and more depressed about the fact that we never really get down to the baseline that I’d like,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as reported by CNN.

Thirty states are experiencing downward trends in the number of coronavirus cases, but the U.S. still reports about 36,000 new cases each day, which Fauci said is too high.

Besides marking the 19th remembrance of the nation’s deadliest terror attacks, Friday, Sept. 11, also marked six months since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. Two days later, on March 13, the U.S. declared a national emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since then, more than 28 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed across the globe, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 910,000 have died from COVID-19, Johns Hopkins reported.

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The United States leads all nations in coronavirus cases, with almost 6.4 million, and more than 191,000 deaths.

Schools are reopening, as more college and professional sports leagues are making plans to allow limited numbers of fans to attend games. Colleges nationwide have become hot spots for the virus weeks after reopening. And when students return home, which health officials have urged against, they could transmit the disease to more communities.

Teachers in at least three states have died after bouts with the coronavirus since the dawn of the new school year, and a teachers union leader worries that the return to in-person classes will have a deadly impact across the U.S. if proper precautions aren’t taken.

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AshLee DeMarinis was 34 when she died Sunday after three weeks in the hospital. She taught social skills and special education at John Evans Middle School in Potosi, Missouri, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

A third-grade teacher died Monday in South Carolina, and two other educators died recently in Mississippi. It’s unclear how many teachers in the U.S. have become ill with COVID-19 since the new school year began, but Mississippi alone has reported 604 cases among school teachers and staff.

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Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said schools need guidelines such as mandatory face coverings and strict social distancing rules to reopen safely.

The pandemic will also soon be stacked on top of flu season. In July, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we experienced in American public health.”