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America's death toll from coronavirus will depend on nation's response, top infectious disease expert warns

On State of the Union, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells Brianna Keilar that in a worst-case scenario millions of people in the US could die from the coronavirus.

Posted: Mar 15, 2020 2:44 PM

The nation's top infectious disease expert on Sunday warned that hundreds of thousands could die nationwide if America doesn't take necessary action to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Asked on by CNN's Brianna Keiler on "State of the Union" if hundreds of thousands could die from coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that "it could happen, and it could be worse."

LISTEN: The Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction Podcast

"Our challenge is to try and make that not happen," continued Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Fauci emphasized that it's imperative for Americans to recognize the risks of the virus and take actions to prevent its spread if they want to reduce the potential death toll from the pandemic.

"If we go about our daily lives and not worry about everything" then the death toll could be high, he said, adding: "To me that's real impetus to take very seriously the kinds of things" the public should do.

"People sometimes think that I'm overreacting. I like it when people are thinking I'm overreacting because that means we're doing it just right," Fauci said.

The comments from Fauci come as officials continue to urge "social distancing" as a way to slow the spread of the disease. Dozens of national and local events have been canceled or postponed in recent days as companies, organizations and governments try to reduce the number of people congregated in a single area.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines "social distancing" as "remaining out of places where people meet or gather," and "avoiding local public transportation."

As of Sunday morning, there were 2,885 cases of coronavirus in the US and the disease had resulted in at least 60 deaths, according to figures from state and local health agencies, governments and the CDC.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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Heat and humidity will continue to rise today with temperatures warming into the upper 90s this afternoon under mostly sunny skies. Heat index values will be between 107-109 this afternoon. Thursday will be even hotter with temperatures making a run for 100. Heat index values will likely top 110 on Thursday. Be cautious when spending time outside the next two days. A heat advisory remains in effect across the area until 9 PM on Thursday. Thursday night into Friday a cold front will approach our area. This will give us some isolated to scattered rain chances into the weekend as well as some cooler temperatures. Highs will be near average this weekend topping out in the mid to upper 80s.
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