3 top health experts say the US is on the brink of another COVID-19 surge thanks to the variant first found in the UK, just as states relax restrictions

Fauci Biden
White House Chief Medical Advisor on Covid-19 Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) listens as President Joe Biden (L) speaks as he tours the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at the National Institutes of Health. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
  • Health experts on Sunday warned of another COVID-19 surge in the US.
  • Dr Celine Gounder said the variant first found in the UK was spiking. “We’re on a tipping point of another surge.”
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said that although cases were falling, they were plateauing at a “very high” level.
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Top public health officials in the US on Sunday warned of another surge in COVID-19 cases if states relax restrictions too soon.

Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, and most recently Texas have lifted compulsory mask-wearing in public, despite health officials advising against it. 

Dr. Celine Gounder, a US infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist, said in a CNN interview on Sunday the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK, which is more infectious, was spreading rapidly across America.

“That strain is increasing exponentially. It’s spiking up,” she said. “So we are probably right now on a tipping point of another surge.”

More than 3,000 cases of the variant have been reported in the US, CDC data from Sunday showed.

The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 has dropped to fewer than 70,000, according to data from John Hopkins University. This is down from more than 240,000 new daily cases earlier this year – but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday that the numbers were still “really very high.”

“Plateauing at a level of 60,000 to 70,000 new cases per day is not an acceptable level. That is really very high,” Fauci said.

“We do want to come back carefully and slowly about pulling back on mitigation methods. But don’t turn that switch on and off because it really would be risky to have yet again another surge,” he said.

Fauci added that the coronavirus strain first found in New York isn’t widespread yet, but is spreading beyond the New York City metropolitan area. Health officials are also monitoring four other variants in the US, first found in the UKSouth AfricaBrazil, and California.

Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday the US is the “eye of the hurricane.”  

He said the coronavirus variant from the UK “is about to come upon us,” adding that “it’s wreaking havoc in parts of Europe.”

Their comments come five days after Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he’d lift a mask mandate and allow businesses to open “100%” in the state, going against the advice of federal health officials.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, on Tuesday said the US could have a fourth surge of COVID-19 cases if people don’t follow public-health recommendations. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” she said.

Coronavirus has infected more than 28.9 million Americans and killed more than 525,000, according to data from John Hopkins University