WASHINGTON -- Sept. 11 marks exactly six months since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. The death toll has topped 191,000 -- with 23 states now seeing an increase in cases.
Add to that a grim outlook from the nation's top infectious disease doctor that this fight is far from over.
"I just think we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci cautioned Americans not to underestimate the coronavirus.
"Don't ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don't try and look at the rosy side of things," he warned.
Dr. Fauci said it could be the end of 2021 before we get back to how our lives were before COVID-19.
"When we lift restrictions, we get a blip. It's whack-a-mole," said Dr. Fauci during a Harvard Medical School symposium on the COVID-19 pandemic. "I believe that we will have a vaccine that will be available by the end of this year, the beginning of next year."
The CDC is now projecting 217,000 deaths by the beginning of October. And with flu season around the corner, health experts are issuing this dire warning.
"So the big concern is we could see what could be a perfect storm of accelerated COVID-19 activity as people gather more inside ... and as they are exposed to seasonal influenza," said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the division of infectious diseases at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.
Scientists around the world have been scrambling to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus since the pandemic began. Nearly 900,000 deaths have been reported in the pandemic.