Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said on Tuesday that America has to assume that the coronavirus pandemic is going to get worse.

The U.S. is already dealing with the worst month of the pandemic thus far. The nation surpassed 19 million coronavirus infections on Sunday, and December is the deadliest month of the outbreak.

“I think we just have to assume that it’s going to get worse,” Fauci said during an interview on CNN.

He noted that the U.S. is seeing between 100,000 and 200,000 new infections each day and added that once cases begin to rise, increases in hospitalizations and deaths follow.

“I hope we don’t just get to that level of continually seeing over 200,000 because, as you know, it staggers. You get cases, you get hospitalizations and then you get deaths,” Fauci said. “It’s highly predictable that once you increase in those number of cases in a staggered way every couple of weeks, you get increase in the number of hospitalizations.”

Fauci also said that the surge has “gotten out of control in many respects,” adding that, given the surging case counts, “it really is very, very difficult to do effective identification, isolation and contact tracing.”

Fauci said it’s too late to try to control travel, since many Americans traveled for Christmas despite warnings from public health officials. However, he implored those who did travel to not congregate among large numbers of people after they travel.

“That’s what we’re concerned about that in addition to the surge, we’re gonna have an increase superimposed on that surge, which could make January even worse than December,” Fauci said. “I hope not, I hope that doesn’t happen, but that certainly is possible.”

The Hill