The United States has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases recently, but it’s unclear if this is a big deal or not, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Driving the news: Fauci said recently that the United States hasn’t reached the ideal scenario for COVID, which is when transmission rates are “low enough that it doesn’t disrupt our population or the economy, our daily economic, workplace and social lives.”

  • For this to happen, COVID-19 transmission rates would have “to be low enough that it isn’t a serious threat to the health of the nation,” Fauci said, per CNN.

The latest: But coronavirus cases are ticking upward, in large part due to the omicron variant’s subvariant, BA.2, which has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • Fauci said it’s unclear if this will lead to a major wave or surge, though.

What he said: “We are certainly seeing the beginning of a surge of new infections,” Fauci said. “It depends on how high we go up in the surge, and it depends on whether the surge is associated with an increase in severe disease.

  • “I can’t say where we are right now, because we’re transitioning,” he said.
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The bigger picture: Experts are keeping an eye on the COVID-19 case numbers in case they lead to hospitalization and severe disease, which would be a sign of a major outbreak.

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha said on NBC’s “Today” show earlier this week that experts are watching the uptick in cases.

  • “Obviously, I never like to see infections rising. I think we’ve got to be careful, but I don’t think this is a moment where we have to be excessively concerned,” he said.