At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after last week’s mob attack on Capitol Hill, during which they were forced to shelter in place with colleagues who refused to wear face masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, isn’t surprised. “When you have people in close indoor settings without social distancing or masks there are likely going to be some infections,” Fauci told the Daily Beast on Tuesday. Read on for his warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
“Doesn’t matter who you are”—wear a mask
Separately, the attending physician to Congress warned that the Jan. 6 insurrection could become a “superspreader event,” and he urged lawmakers to be tested for COVID immediately. In recent days, Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) announced they had tested positive after sheltering at the Capitol.
The events of Jan. 6 may be extreme, but they underscore what health officials have said for months: Wearing a face mask, social distancing, and avoiding crowds are crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m just gonna stick by what I have said maybe 5,000 times in the last several months—the recommendation is that you wear masks uniformly, you keep physical distance, you avoid congregate settings, particularly indoors, and you wash your hands as often as you possibly can,” Fauci told the Daily Beast. “Any deviation of that by anybody is creating a risk for acquisition and or spread of infection. Doesn’t matter who you are.”
In fact, Fauci recently said that all Americans should recommit to practicing those public health measures consistently until most Americans can be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“It’s a tough situation,” said Fauci during a virtual discussion with the Virginia Department of Health last Friday. “We’re having now more than 4,000 deaths per day. This is historic. We are in a very bad way right now. The only way we’re going to get out of it, as we make a link to the vaccines, is by doubling down on our adherence to public health measures.”
Last week, the country reached a new high for COVID-19 deaths and total hospitalizations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 22.8 million Americans have tested positive for COVID, and more than 380,000 have died of the disease.
According to the CDC, as of Jan. 12, nearly 27.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed, and 9.3 million people have received the first of a two-dose regimen. That’s well behind the Trump administration’s original goal of vaccinating 20 million people by Jan. 1.
Health experts like Dr. Fauci warn that 75% to 80% of all Americans must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the country achieves herd immunity and pre-pandemic normality can resume.
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How to survive this pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a 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 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.