Dr. Anthony Fauci gave a strong recommendation Wednesday toward a national mask mandate as COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the United States.

Asked by CNBC’s Shepard Smith if the U.S. needs a national mask mandate, the infectious disease expert responded by saying, “We do.”

“If we don’t get one, then I would hope that the governors and mayors do it locally if it’s not done nationally,” Fauci said on “The News with Shepard Smith.”

His recommendation comes as 41 states have seen at least a 10% increase in cases in the past week, CNN reported. There have been 8.85 million cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, Johns Hopkins University has reported, and the country saw an all-time high seven-day average of 71,832 cases per day on Tuesday.

The United States reported 996 deaths from the coronavirus Wednesday, according to CNBC. The country has had at least 227,703 total deaths since March, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Fauci warned the U.S. is “on a very difficult trajectory.”

“If things do not change, if they continue on the course we’re on, there’s gonna be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths,” Fauci said on CNBC.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said increases in COVID-19 cases are because of increases in testing. Fauci refuted those claims Wednesday, as did Brett Giroir, who leads the federal government’s coronavirus testingefforts.

“Between July, August, September, October now, we do believe and the data show that the cases are going up,” Giroir said, according to Axios. “It’s not just a function of testing. Yes, we’re getting more cases identified. But the cases are actually going up. And we know that too because hospitalizations are going up.”

Cases will likely continue to increase, Fauci told Smith. He said it’s time the country does something different with its response to the virus, which has again overcrowded hospitals throughout the country this month.

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“We have got to do things that have not been done uniformally and consistently throughout the country,” Fauci said.

More than 100 countries have issued national mask mandates at one point during the pandemic, Brink News reported Aug. 31.

Researchers have projected that universal mask use could save 130,000 lives in the United States by February, according to a forecast published in the medical journal Nature Medicine



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