Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is getting the word out to Americans — especially those in seven central states — to be extra vigilant over the holiday weekend amid concerns about a spike in COVID-19 cases.
He warned that carelessness about the coronavirus could trigger a surge, similar to what happened after the Memorial Day holiday and the Fourth of July. That means staying away from crowded picnics, backyards and beaches. The fear is that Americans are tired of COVID-19 precautions and may risk an end-of-summer blowout.
“You don’t want to be someone who’s propagating the outbreak,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on the “Today” show. “You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
In particular, he warned in an interview with Bloomberg: “There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois. Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing. That’s generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem.”
Fauci also joined a call to governors with Vice President Mike Pence this week to urge all Americans to wear face masks in public and follow social distancing guidelines.
“If we’re careless about it, then we could wind up with a surge following Labor Day,” Fauci warned. “It really depends on how we behave as a country.”
The U.S. has recorded more than 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 187,000 deaths.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.