As COVID-19 deaths surpass 150,000 in America, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, went on BET to discuss how to stop the virus, its impact on the African-American and Latinx communities—and his one big worry for the fall. Read on to see what he’s most concerned about, and how you can stay safe.
On the Fundamental Things You Should Be Doing Right Now
“There are maybe four or five fundamental principles that everyone should be doing right now…. One wear a mask at all times. Number two, do not congregate in crowds. Number three, keep physical distancing, you know, six feet from someone you should be wearing a mask close. The bars—bars are a hotbed of transmission. And then practice personal hygiene, washing your hands. As often as you can. That’s not rocket science smart. That’s pretty simple. You could still open up your community. You could still get economic recovery while you’re doing those things. And yet some people feel that if you’re going to open up, you got to let all caution to the wind.”
On His Worries About the Fall
“Will there be a second wave? As we get into the winter, when people congregate inside, you have circulating event, you have cold weather that viruses like better than hot weather. Then you could be concerned. Well, what’s going to happen when that happens? But right now, unfortunately, we’re still knee deep in the first wave we have even gotten out of it yet. So my concern is that if we stay at this hard level through the summer months, which I hope we don’t, but if we do, when the fall and the winter comes, it’s going to be complicated by the onset of the influenza season. And influenza is another respiratory illness. So you may have two co-circulating respiratory illnesses: COVID-19 and influenza.” He recommends you get your flu shot as soon as it’s available.
On Why There are Outbreaks
“The guidelines for opening America…they’re very clearly delineated. And what it says is that you have a gateway. So you’ve got to prove in your community that the cases are going down over 14 days, then you go to phase one. If you’re successful in phase one for a certain period of time, you move to phase two and you gradually open up. So what has happened to create these surges? First, some States did not pay attention to the guidelines. They jumped from one phase to another, without gradually and prudently, trying to go in a very measured way to open point number two, some States that professed to do it correctly. The people in the States, particularly young people who feel invulnerable said, ‘What the hell, it’s unlikely. I’m going to get any symptoms. So who cares?’ So what they do, they don’t wear a mask. They go to bars, they congregate in crowds. They have…parties…and that’s what leads to the surge. So if you want to open, and I said this many times, instead of making the public health measures the obstacle to opening, make the public health measures a vehicle or a roadway to opening by doing it carefully and in a prudent way. The only unfortunate thing is we haven’t done that.”
On the Impact of COVID-19 on the African-American and Latinx Community
“It’s what I call a double whammy against the minority, but particularly the African-American and Latinx community. I don’t like to generalize as a demographic group that the African-American community is more likely to be in a job that does not allow them to stay at home and do teleworking most of the time they’re in essential jobs. I mean, obviously there are a lot of African-Americans who are not, that could just as easily do that. But as a broad demographic group, you’re outside, you’re exposed. You may be in a financial or economic or employment situation where you don’t have as much control over physical separation, which is one of the ways that you prevent infection. So the likelihood of your getting infected is more than the likelihood of someone, not in your position.”
On Underlying Conditions for Those Demographic Groups
“The other side of the coin, and this has a lot to do with long term social determinants of health. As a demographic group, African-Americans have disproportionately greater incidents of the underlying conditions that allow you to have a more unfavorable outcome, namely more serious disease, hospitalization, and even death. That is diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, chronic kidney disease. If you look at populations as a whole, and you look at the demographic group of African-Americans and the demographic group of the rest of the population or Caucasian, what you see is a much greater incidence. So you have two things going against you.”
How to Avoid COVID-19
As for yourself, avoid catching COVID-19: wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.