Story at a glance
- Speaking on The Journal podcast, Anthony Fauci emphasizes the need for states to stick to federal guidelines while reopening.
- While he concedes that some state residents "threw caution to the wind," he does not blame states or individuals, reiterating the public health messaging of wearing masks and distancing.
Speaking yesterday in a Wall Street Journal podcast, Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force discussed how the U.S. can get the virus's spread and outbreak under control.
Consistent with previous interviews and public health advice, the infectious disease specialist strongly advocates following set public health protocols and that states beginning to reopen must adhere to guidelines and not skip checkpoints.
“We’ve got to tighten things up. Close the bars, indoor restaurants, either no or make it such that there’s very good seating. Make sure people wear masks, make sure they don’t congregate in crowds, make sure they keep their distance. If you do those simple public health measures, guarantee that you’ll see the curve come down. It’s happened time and again in virtually every country that has done that.”
Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. government recommends that there must be a two-week decline of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 symptoms, as well as a downward trajectory of confirmed cases extending the same two-week period. Strong testing systems should also be in place before phased reopening begins.
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For states who he says reopened too quickly, residents can help flatten the curve by participating in public health protocols.
Acknowledging people in some of the highly afflicted states "didn’t listen and just threw caution to the wind", he notably made an effort to not cast blame on people or states who are experiencing outbreaks.
“You don’t want to be blaming people. Once you start blaming people, you get off the message of ‘what are you going to do about it to correct it,’” Fauci explained.
On the public policy messages, Fauci notes that it is “a mixed bag” that doesn’t always coincide with human behavior and the desire to resume normal life and socialize.
“There are a lot of things that are going on in the states. Some states, you know, it gets frustrating, because not to name any states, but some states admittedly opened up too early and too quickly, so that was something that probably should not have happened that led to this.”
Citing the heterogeneity of each state, he does not make a sweeping generalization for each state regarding when and how to shut down, but advised that “I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It's not for me to say because each state is different.”
However, reopening should be the same: abide by the guidelines. “You don’t advance to the next stage until you fulfill the conditions of the stage you are in,” he explained.
“It really depends on where you are and what the level of viral activity is in the place that you are. If it is a very low level of activity you don’t want to give up everything, you still should have physical separation.” Masks should be worn when social distancing is impossible in a facility.
As for the message of the moment: “We've got to get our arms around this. We've got to be stringent. We've got to relook at what's going on. And we're seeing that. We're seeing now the governors and the mayors of these states and cities really now leaning in to try and get control of this. Hopefully we will. And when we do, that could be a good lesson of going forward. Remember: we all still want to proceed with reopening.”
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