US is still ‘knee-deep’ in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, lowers his face mask as he prepares to testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, lowers his face mask as he prepares to testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP) (UPI)

(CNN) – In the span of a week and a half, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has doubled, yet officials are saying this is still the first wave of the pandemic.

"We are still knee-deep in the first wave of this," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream Monday. "I would say, this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline ... that really never got down to where we wanted to go."

The packed holiday crowds over the weekend contributed to that surge, leading to a shortage of hospital beds as well as threatening to infect others and set the economy back even further. This virus is notorious for how contagious it is -- and how easily people can infect others without symptoms.

"We are in free fall," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"You see the footage of what happened this past weekend. And people are either naive to the influence of their actions, or they're simply resigned to ignore it."

The rise in cases has also affected the turnaround time for getting Covid-19 test results. Quest Diagnostics said in a statement Monday results now take an average of four to six days, whereas in early June it was two to three days. Similarly, LabCorp told CNN its results are taking two to four days, when it had been taking one to two days.

Quest and LabCorp said they plan to increase their testing capacity in July.

On the same livestream with Fauci on Monday, Dr. Francis Collins, the National Institutes of Health director, tried to reassure Americans the country would get through the pandemic.