SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The coronavirus continues to spread rapidly through the United States and its economy, killing more than 10,000 Americans and plunging the country into what economists are predicting to be another recession.

Could this be the new “normal” for the United States?

In a press conference Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the US may never get entirely back to where it was before the coronavirus pandemic, especially without a vaccine and treatments that work.

“If ‘back to normal’ means acting like there never was a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population,” Fauci said in response to a question by ABC News correspondent Jon Karl. “But when we say getting back to normal, we mean something very different from what we’re going through right now. Because right now, we’re in a very intense mitigation.

“When we get back to normal, we will go back to the point where we can function as a society. But you’re absolutely right. If you want to get back to pre-coronavirus, that might not ever happen in the sense that the threat is there. But I believe that with the therapies that will be coming online, and the fact that I feel confident that over a period of time we will get a good vaccine, that we will never have to get back to where we are right now,” Dr. Fauci added.

Dr. Fauci had previously stated that without a vaccine, it’s possible the coronavirus could come back every year as a seasonal disease, so the only way to fully protect the population is to develop a vaccine.

Several clinical trials are underway, testing therapies and vaccines that could protect against contracting the disease.

However, public health officials have previously said it would take a year to 18 months to fully validate any potential vaccine.

As of Tuesday, there were more than 368,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US, with more than 10,000 deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Life as we know it has changed and come to a screeching halt nationwide.

More than 40 states have issued some form of stay-at-home orders, temporarily shutting down non-essential businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus and urging people to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible to flatten the curve.

While states such as California and New York have shown some signs that social distancing is apparently working to slow the spread of the virus, officials warn that social distancing remains integral and people should continue to follow stay-at-home orders to help continue flattening the curve.

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