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Fauci admonishes those flouting coronavirus guidelines: 'You're part of the problem'

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciCDC director: Vaccinated adolescents can remove masks outdoors at summer camps The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Overnight Health Care: Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers | Moderna reports positive early results for booster shots against COVID-19 variants | Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium MORE, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said during a Saturday interview with WebMD's chief medical officer John Whyte that "young people are driving this new surge" in coronavirus cases by "not caring" if they get infected.

Fauci said recent data shows the largest age group reporting new COVID-19 infections is at least 15 years younger than the demographic the nation saw a few months ago when New York case numbers peaked in early April.

"They're not going to get very sick. They know that. So what I think is happening is that, understandably, innocently, but not correctly, the younger individuals are saying, 'Well, if I get infected, so the chances of it is that I won't even have any symptoms, so who cares?' That's a big mistake," Fauci said.

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COVID-19 infections in younger individuals with healthy immune systems are statistically more likely to display less severe symptoms than those found in older patients. Still, Fauci added that this is not a reason for younger generations to exercise less caution.

"Because by allowing yourself to getting infected or not caring if you do get infected, you are propagating a pandemic," he added. "Because it doesn't end with you. You get infected and have no symptoms. The chances are you're going to infect someone else, who will then infect someone else."

Fauci emphasized how careless behavior toward the virus in younger, healthier people could indirectly affect someone who is more prone to a severe infection, thereby creating more problems that counter the effort to curb the spread.

"So somehow, we've got to keep getting that message across. And I don't mean in the sense of blaming anybody," Fauci said, adding, "these are people that are doing this innocently and inadvertently."

Whyte raised a point about how health experts use words such as "asymptomatic" and "presymptomatic" when discussing the virus, and how some populations may not understand this rhetoric if health science is not a part of their every day lives.

Fauci recounted his recent media ventures outside the sphere of typical Washington politics, underscoring how Instagram interviews with people like Julia Roberts or podcasts with notable rappers like Lil Wayne could be a gateway to helping young people understand more about COVID-19.