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US hits 7 million COVID-19 cases as Fauci warns against pandemic fatigue

The U.S. continues to lead the world in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.

The United States passed 7 million cases of COVID-19 Friday, the first country to hit that mark. That's according to numbers from Johns Hopkins University There have been more than 203,000 U.S. deaths linked to disease caused by the new coronavirus, also leading the world.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert is cautioning people not to let pandemic fatigue weaken efforts to keep the coronavirus from spreading. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that “people are exhausted from being shut down” and some give up on doing things that contain the virus.

The head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comment Friday in a podcast with a medical journal editor.

Fauci urges people to remember that “there is an end to this” and “we just have to hang in there a bit” as researchers work on a vaccine. Fauci says that “what we don’t want to have to do is to shut down again” if cases really spike.

Credit: AP
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, listens during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)

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The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, a model often cited by the White House, says it projects 371,000 deaths by Jan. 1, 2021 if there is no change to the current use of masks and social distancing measures. That's a decrease from the 410,451 projection IHME made on Sept. 3.

The IHME model notes mask use has ticked up slightly in the past three weeks to 48%. But it also projects an additional 96,000 lives could be saved through the end of the year if there was at least 95% mask usage.

India has the second-most coronavirus cases with 5.8 million and is quickly moving closer to the U.S. The world's second-most populous nation has seen anywhere between 80,000 and 97,000 cases per day for most of September. It has recorded 92,000 deaths.

Brazil and Russia are the only two other countries with more than 1 million confirmed cases.