WASHINGTON -- The nation's top infectious disease specialist warned Tuesday that the United States could see up to 100,000 new cases per day of the virus that causes COVID-19 if the nation does not take steps to control the pandemic.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that he's concerned the number of new cases per day could rise from the current rate of about 40,000 new cases a day.
"I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around," Fauci said.
Tuesday's hearing came as the administration has been grappling with cases rising in 35 states, according to a tally by The New York Times. Officials in a handful of states have paused their efforts to reopen with cases increasing.
Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified that hospitalizations are rising in 12 states and that the daily death rate is increasing in Arizona.
Officials reiterated their calls for Americans to think about their social responsibility to protect people who are more vulnerable and to lower the risk by social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands.
"There's just more and more data showing that the use of face coverings and masks are an effective way to prevent transmission," Redfield said, adding that the practices of keeping distance, wearing masks and washing hands were the "best recommendations I can tell you."
Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander called on President Donald Trump to wear a mask at times in an effort to make it less of a political statement.
"The president has millions of admirers," the Tennessee Republican said. "They would follow his lead. It would help end this political debate. The stakes are too high for it to continue."
Alexander said wearing a mask may have helped prevent him from contracting the virus after coming in contact with a staffer who was presymptomatic.