Dr. Anthony Fauci warned seven Midwestern states this week to be cautious over the Labor Day weekend about coronavirus infections.
Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious disease expert, said that these states have seen upticks in COVID-19 cases so they should take extra precautions over the holiday weekend, especially after outbreaks followed previous summer holidays.
“There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci told Bloomberg News this week. “Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing; that is generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem.”
The White House Coronavirus Task Force warned Iowa to close its bars this week as the state reached the number one spot for its positivity rate with coronavirus testing. Over the past two weeks, 11% of the state's coronavirus tests came back positive.
Illinois has the most cases and deaths of the seven states - 248,177 confirmed cases and 8,166 deaths.
Fauci previously said Labor Day would be a “critical point” in the severity of the virus’ outbreak throughout the fall.
The landscape has improved in recent weeks, with the latest hard-hit states such as Florida, Arizona and Texas trending downward in cases. But with children going back to school and outbreaks arising on college campuses, a Labor Day spread could set back progress.
“If we’re careless about it, then we could wind up with a surge following Labor Day,” Fauci said. “It really depends on how we behave as a country.”
More beaches will be open over Labor Day than over Memorial Day, but Fauci said he’s not particularly concerned.
“I would rather see someone on a beach, being physically separated enough, than someone crowded in an indoor bar,” he said.
Over 188,000 have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and 6.2 million cases have been confirmed.