As the total number of known coronavirus cases in the U.S. surged past 13.3 million on Sunday, the nation's top doctor is warning Americans to brace for even more new infections.
"What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed upon that surge that we're already in," said Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with NBC News' "Meet the Press."
Fauci said that he didn't want to frighten people, "except to say it is not too late at all for us to do something about this."
This is the latest dire warning to come from Fauci, an immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
The vast majority of the U.S. is seeing "uncontrolled spread" of the disease, according to Covidexitstrategy.org.
The nation logged 155,596 new cases and 1,189 new deaths on Saturday alone, according to Johns Hopkins University.
But the spread comes at a time when it appears several vaccine candidates might soon be available, including those by Pfizer (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report and BioNTech (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, as well as potentially Moderna (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and AstraZeneca (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report.
Fauci told "Meet the Press" that we “almost certainly” will be vaccinating some people in the country by the end of December.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel because we will really be seeing vaccines soon," he said.
But enough vaccines won't be available to halt the pandemic until much later on, possibly by as early as the end of 2021, based on some projections.
“We're going to be faced with another situation, we’re going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family that we're in a very difficult time," said Fauci, "and we're going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would like to have done, particularly in this holiday season.”
Also on Sunday, it was announced that New York City public schools would begin reopening in phases again in a week from Monday.