• When asked if the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic could be over in the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed toward a “couple of cities” that may not have seen a peak in COVID-19 infections.
  • Fauci reiterated his belief that the reopening of the US economy will be done with “a great deal of variability” as certain states will need to continue distancing measures while others could relax them.
  • “As I say, I’m a very cautious person, but we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel,” Fauci said.
  • Fauci did not say which cities or states he believed had not yet peaked, or which areas could soon consider relaxing social distancing measures.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The worst of the coronavirus pandemic may near an end in the US, though there are a “couple of exceptions,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top expert on the White House coronavirus task force, said in an interview with NBC News.

In an interview that aired Wednesday on NBC’s “Today,” anchor Savannah Guthrie asked Fauci whether the apparent flattening of the curve in places like New York was indicative that the worst of the pandemic was coming to an end.

“There are a couple of cities right now that we’re worried about that haven’t yet peaked and turned around,” Fauci said. “If you look at the New York metropolitan area as the prototype that has been driving this through the country, and then look at the country as a whole, there is no doubt that what we’ve seen over the last several days is a flattening out.”

Fauci highlighted indicators like decreasing “admissions, hospitalizations, needs for intensive care, and intubation” in New York that contribute to a promising trend.

Hopefully, that trend will continue,” Fauci said. “As I say, I’m a very cautious person, but we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.”

As Guthrie noted after he finished answering, Fauci had seemed to start — but then stopped — to say the US is close to the end of the worst stage of the pandemic.

Guthrie also asked Fauci about the president’s comments about re-opening portions of the country before the beginning of May. Fauci said he was “certain” the president was talking about parts of the country with a “low-level” of infections and who have a “low density of population and a lot of geographic lands.”

He did not identify which parts of the country could be re-opened before the end of the month.

“There’s going to be a great deal of variability,” he told Guthrie.

Some states will continue social distancing efforts because they continue to find themselves in a “really difficult situation,” he said.

“You would not want to relax any of the physical separation guidelines,” Fauci said of certain highly infected areas. Other regions would “really be doing much better,” and would require a different approach, he said.

“It’s not going to be a one size fits all,” he said.

To scale back social distancing measures, Fauci said states needed to be able to “identify, isolate, get out of circulation, and do adequate contact tracing” as new COVID-19 cases arise across the country.

“If you start pulling back on mitigation and physical separations, there will be infections,” he said. “The real proof of the pudding of the success of this reentry is how quickly and effectively you identify them, you get them out of circulation you give them care where needed and you do contract tracing so you don’t have the beginning of the peak.”

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