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U.S. COVID-19 infections are likely to rise again, Fauci says. Here’s why

March 20, 2022, 5:02 PM UTC
Lab technician Alejandra Sanchez cares for a patient in the Emergency Department at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on March 11 in Apple Valley, California. The hospital was treating 125 confirmed COVID-19 patients at the peak of the Omicron surge but has seen a sharp decline and is currently caring for 13 confirmed coronavirus patients.
Mario Tama—Getty Images

A likely rise in U.S. Covid-19 cases probably won’t amount to a full-scale surge or prompt a renewal of widespread restrictions, one of President Joe Biden’s top advisers said.

“The bottom line is we likely will see an uptick in cases, as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the U.K.,” Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Hopefully we won’t see a surge. I don’t think we will.”

The BA.2 subvariant of omicron is driving up cases in Europe and now accounts for about 30% of infections in the U.S, where indoor-mask and vaccine requirements have largely been rolled back.

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has argued that the U.S. needs to be prepared to resume measures such as requiring masks in indoor public spaces, Fauci said, “right now, at this point, I don’t see that.” 

U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. While BA.2 is about 50% more transmissible than the original strain of omicron, it doesn’t cause more severe illness or evade immunity from vaccinations or earlier infection, Fauci said. 

Fauci and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy urged Congress to pass a stalled package of new COVID-19 relief. 

“As much work as we’ve done in the last two years to get the right tools, we’ve got to continue funding them and supporting them so they’re available to people across the country,” Murthy said on “Fox News Sunday.” “That’s why Congress moving to provide that funding is so critical.” 

Fauci, 81, tamped down speculation that he might be ready to retire. Last week, he told ABC: “I can’t stay at this job forever.”

“I want to make sure we’re really out of this before I really seriously consider doing anything different,” he said Sunday. “We’re still in this. We have a way to go. I think we are clearly going in the right direction. I hope we stay that way.”

–With assistance from Tony Czuczka

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