- Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that “what we have got to do is reset” the US’ coronavirus response.
- He recommended universal masking, avoiding crowds, and shutting down bars.
- “If we do that for a couple of weeks in a row,” Fauci said. “I think we’re going to see a turnaround.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s time for a ‘reset’ on the US’ coronavirus response.
“We have got to say, ‘this is not working,'” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told PBS NewsHour on Friday, after another week of record-breaking coronavirus outbreaks, especially across the southern US, in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and California.
Fauci urged everyone to take three basic actions, right now.
“You don’t necessarily need to lock down,” he said. “But you have got to do three or four or five things that are absolutely critical … and that is universal wearing of masks. Stay away from crowds. Close the bars.”
Wear masks. Avoid crowds. Close bars.
Fauci has railed against crowding into indoor bars before, where evidence suggests the virus can spread easily between people who shout and spit in each other’s faces, share drinks, take off their masks, and just generally get close enough for any virus that is among them to get passed around.
“The more close you are to other people, the more you are inside, the more the activity is intense or involves very close social contact, the more that multiple modes of transmission come into play,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s executive director of health emergencies said on Friday. “When you get into a particular setting — a very overcrowded situation in an indoor environment — then effectively all bets are off.”
Because the coronavirus is a respiratory virus that spreads easily when people are close together, and often spreads well before people know they are sick, masks are also vital to controlling its spread.
Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an interview with JAMA earlier this week that “if we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think in the next four, six, eight weeks … we can get this epidemic under control.”
Disease modeling suggests that if every American put on a mask when venturing out into public spaces, 33,000 lives could be saved by October of this year, a number that jumps to 45,000 lives saved if everyone keeps their mask on until November.
One key reason the virus continues to spread out of control across the US is that the respiratory illness can multiply exponentially once a population is exposed. When an initial infection arrives in an area, if it is not quickly contained and quarantined, it can seed many more. Those infections, in turn, can spread outwards into a rapidly expanding bloom of coronavirus cases.
But the virus, if it is closed off from infecting new people — with strict quarantining measures, adequate social distancing, fewer crowds, less drunken shouting, and more masks — can be effectively stamped out, as countries across Europe and Asia have recently seen.
“If we do that for a couple of weeks in a row,” Fauci said. “I think we’re going to see a turnaround.”
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