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The United States does not require more widespread lockdowns to get its COVID-19 outbreak under control, despite the fact that the national daily infection rate is not showing signs of decline, leading government expert Anthony Fauci told AFP in an interview Thursday. "I don't think we're going to be talking about going back to lockdown," he said when asked whether places like California and Texas that are seeing a surge in their caseload should reissue stay-at-home orders. "I think we're going to be talking about trying to better control those areas of the country that seem to be having a surge of cases." The US leads the world in the number of confirmed infections and in deaths -- with the fatality toll approaching 120,000. But while former epicenters New York and New Jersey have succeeded in controlling their outbreaks, the virus is now increasing in 20 states -- creating a plateau in the national case graph. Fauci stressed a localized approach would be required as the country takes further steps to return to normal -- including on the crucial question of when to reopen schools. "Counties where there are certainly no cases at all, there's no problem with the schools opening," he said. "There are other parts where there's a modest amount of infection (where) you may delay school openings. "And there are other parts of the country where there's minimum infection, where you want to make some modification of the process, namely: alternate days, morning versus afternoon, seating people apart from each other wearing masks." Fauci, who has led America's response to every major epidemic since the outbreak of AIDS in the 1980s, said one thing that bothered him was a lack of compliance to authorities' recommendations about wearing masks. "We have a country where even when the recommendations are to wear a mask, a recommendation that I've been involved in making, there are some groups that actually do the recommendations very strictly and they adhere to it. "And then... you see pictures of people in bars and in congregations without that. So again, it's a mixed bag. Some people are doing it fine, and some are not."