US virus expert Fauci says summer may be on

Washington (AFP) –


The US health official leading the government's scientific response to coronavirus made cautiously optimistic noises about the deadly pandemic Thursday, suggesting Americans may be able to take summer holidays.

Anthony Fauci said the United States could be up and running again by the summer months providing citizens adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders throughout April.

When asked by CBS whether he could envision a summer of vacations, baseball games, weddings and family get-togethers Fauci replied, "It can be in the cards."

New York, America's COVID-19 epicenter, has reported record single-day death tolls twice this week but Governor Andrew Cuomo says the pandemic appears to be flattening with hospitalizations falling.

Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, warned the US must be prepared to deal with an inevitable spike in infections when the economy starts to open up.

"We have to be prepared that when the infections start to rear their heads again that we have in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact, trace and make sure we don't have those spikes we have now.

"So the answer to your question is yes, if we do the things that we need to do to prevent the resurgence," he added.

Fauci insisted that getting the country back to normal would be a gradual process.

"It is very likely that we will progress towards the steps towards normalization as we get to the end of this thirty days.

"And I think that’s going to be a good time to look and see how quickly can we make that move to try and normalize. But hopefully, by the time we get to the summer we will have taken many steps in that direction," he said.

Fauci's comments came after President Donald Trump, who veers between sounding ominous warnings about the crisis to threatening to scrap the mitigation measures, struck a similar tone on Wednesday.

"We are hopefully heading towards a final stretch, the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

The virus has killed more than 14,800 people across the US, with over 432,550 confirmed infections, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University.

New York state accounts for around half the deaths.