Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has reportedly issued a warning to residents of Illinois and six other states to be particularly vigilant over Labor Day weekend in order to prevent a spike in coronavirus cases.
"There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci said in an interview with Bloomberg this week.
"Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing; that is generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem," he added, according to Bloomberg.
Illinois health officials reported 1,360 new coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths on Thursday.
Those figures brought the statewide totals to 240,003 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, with at least 8,115 deaths in all 102 counties attributed to the virus.
Labs in Illinois reported 40,795 tests performed in the 24 hours prior. With Thursday's new cases, the state’s rolling 7-day positivity rate dipped to 4.4% compared to 4.5% the day before - though it remains slightly higher that it's been in recent weeks.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday that the U.S. had previously seen surges in coronavirus cases after earlier summer holiday weekends.
“The issue that we're facing right now is we're entering… into the Labor Day weekend and we know from prior experience that when you get into holiday weekends — the Fourth of July, Memorial Day — there's a tendency of people to be careless, somewhat, with regard to the public health measures that we keep recommending over and over again,” Fauci said.
"So I really want to use this opportunity almost to have a plea to the people in this country to realize that we really still need to get our arms around this and to suppress these types of surges that we've seen," he continued.
“You can have an enjoyable weekend, but you can do a couple of fundamental things that we talk about all the time,” Fauci added. “Masks, distance, avoiding crowds, outdoors much more than indoors, washing your hands."
The U.S. now has more than 6.1 million virus cases and over 188,000 COVID-related deaths, according to a tally by NBC News.