(CNSNews.com) - "We are clearly going to have more infections," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday:
There's going to be more problems with regard to morbidity and mortality. The challenge we have right now is, how do we blunt that?
You know, I have said many times, if you just leave it alone and let the virus to its own devices, it'll go way up, and then it'll come down naturally over a period of several weeks.
Unfortunately, for our colleagues in Italy and in France and certainly in China, that's what happened. Our challenge right now is to do two things, is to prevent the new influx of cases, hence, the travel restrictions.
And, for what we're dealing with right now is to know that we're going to get more infections, but blunt it, so that we don't have that sharp peak, that we have more of a smaller hump. Even with that, we're going to have people getting infected. But we need to try and get there, as opposed to there.
Asked about predictions that "hundreds of thousands of Americans could die from this," Fauci said "it's possible."
"We have to be realistic and honest. Yes, it is possible. Our job, our challenge is to try and make that not happen. But to think, if we go about our daily lives and not worry about everything, that it's not going to happen, it could happen. And it could be worse.
"To me, that's a real impetus to take very seriously the kinds of things -- I might make a point that people sometimes think that you're overreacting. I like it when people are thinking, I'm overreacting, because that means we're doing it just right."
Fauci said COVID-19 is "a bad virus," and "for a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States. We have to just accept that if we want to do what's best for the American public."
That includes preventing new infections from coming into the country and keeping people apart so they don't spread the virus:
"Would you like to see a national lockdown, basically, people, you can't go out to restaurants, bars, you need to stay home?" host Brianna Keilar asked Fauci:
"Well, I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and in bars. Whatever it takes to do that, that's what I'd like to see," Fauci said.
He added that younger people should be concerned for two reasons:
"You are not immune or safe from getting seriously ill, even though, when you look at the total numbers, it's overwhelmingly weighted towards the elderly and those with underlying conditions," Fauci said:
But the virus isn't a mathematical formula. There are going to be people who are young who are going to wind up getting seriously ill. So, protect yourself.
But, remember, you could also be a vector or a carrier. And even though you don't get seriously ill, you could bring it to a person who would bring it to a person that would bring it to your grandfather, your grandmother, or your elderly relative.
That's why you -- everybody's got to take this seriously, even the young.
Fauci told NBC's "Meet the Press," "You always want to be ahead of the curve."
"I mean the golden rule, I say, is that when you think you're doing too much, you're probably doing enough or not enough. That's the thing you've got to do. You don't want to be complacent. You always want to be ahead of the curve, but it depends on how far ahead of the curve you want to be.
"Don't even for a second think that I'm saying we shouldn't -- I like to be criticized when I say oh, you're being too over-reactive. That's good for me."
Host Chuck Todd asked Fauci if he advocates a 14-day "national shutdown" to slow down the virus's spread.
"You know, I would prefer as much as we possibly could. I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting."
Fauci said he's made that view known to the Trump administration.
"In fairness, they listen and they generally go with what we say."
Asked if we should expect more "hunkering down" at home, Fauci said, "I think Americans should be prepared that they're going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing."