As coronavirus cases surge across the nation at an unrelenting pace, experts are predicting a “blizzard” or “tsunami” of COVID to sweep the nation. “This Omicron variant is extraordinarily contagious. It’s as contagious as measles, and that’s about the most contagious virus that we’ve seen,” CNN medical analyst Jonathan Reiner told CNN’s Pamela Brown Saturday. How can you stay safe? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on State of the Union opposite host Jake Tapper. Read on for 6 pieces of life-saving advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Fauci Issued This Very Strong Warning About the Current Surge
“Do you expect new record high numbers for cases? And what about hospitalizations and deaths?” asked Tapper. “Well, unfortunately, Jake, I think that that is going to happen,” said Dr. Fauci. “We are going to see a significant stress in some regions of the country, on the hospital system, particularly in those areas where you have a low level of vaccination, which is one of the reasons why we continue to stress the importance of getting those unvaccinated people vaccinated. This virus is extraordinary. It has a doubling time of anywhere from two to three days right now in certain regions of the country, 50% of the isolates are Omicron, which means it’s going to take over. And if you look at what it’s done in South Africa, what it’s doing in the UK and what it’s starting to do right now … we are gonna be in for some serious difficulties right now. And we better be doing more to mitigate against that. And it’s never too late to get vaccinated. And if you’re vaccinated, go get boosted and be prudent in everything else you do. When you travel in your indoor settings that are congregate, wear a mask. It is going to be tough. We can’t walk away from that. We can’t because with that we’re dealing with, it is gonna be a tough few weeks to months. As we get deeper into the winter.”
Dr. Fauci Says Boost Yourself to Protect Yourself Against Omicron
Dr. Fauci warned we should never underestimate COVID. “The one thing that we know from now almost two years experience with this virus is that it is really very unpredictable, very much so, particularly with the element of variants,” said Dr. Fauci. “The idea of having multiple waves, not only in our own country, but throughout the world, first, an Alpha and then a Delta. And then now Omicron really is something that is very much unprecedented when you think about the terms of outbreaks. So it is understandable how one could say they would hope aspirationally to be at a certain point and then find out you’re not. And the best thing to do then is to just keep going and putting all your resources—getting as many people vaccinated as we possibly can, and absolutely boosted now. Because when you look at Omicron and what it’s doing, the protection from it, like a two dose mRNA vaccine is quite good, particularly against severe disease, but when you get to Omicron, the protection significantly goes down. But the good news is when you boost someone, it goes right back up. And that’s the reason why there’s such an emphasis on the part of all of us. I know I’ve been saying it every day, multiple times a day, the importance of getting boosted, particularly in, in the situation that we’re in with Omicron.”
Dr. Fauci Said Frequent Tests Can Help You Stay Safe
“We gotta do better. I mean, we are doing better,” said Dr. Fauci about getting tests to people. “If you look now compared to where we were a year ago, it’s extraordinarily much different in the positive sense. We now have multiple, multiple at home tests available when we virtually had none a year ago, but we do need to do better. The federal government has been investing now several billion to make anywhere from 200 million to 500 million tests of available per month. Many of them free. They’re gonna be at 10,000 centers that are gonna be giving out free test. So we are gonna be going in the right direction. And I I’ve said that myself many times that we really need to flood the system with testing. We need to have tests available for anyone who wants them, particularly we’re in a situation right now where people are going to be gathering, even though they are vaccinated and boosted, they may want to go that extra step, that extra mile to know that when we have people coming into the home where they’re going someplace, that you can know in 15 minutes, whether or not you’re positive.”
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Dr. Fauci Says He Saw Variants Coming—But Not One as Unique as Omicron
VP Kamala Harris said recently we didn’t see Omicron coming. “We definitely saw variants coming,” said Dr. Fauci. “What was not anticipated was the extent of the mutations and the amino acid substitutions in Omicron, which is really unprecedented. It kind of came out of nowhere where you have a virus that has 50 mutations, 30 of which are in the spike protein and 10 or 12 of which are in the receptor binding domain. I mean, to me, that’s really quite unprecedented. So that’s something you would not have anticipated, but we certainly were anticipating that there were gonna be variants because when you have so many virus, so much replication going on in the community, if you give a virus enough opportunity to replicate, you know, it’s gonna ultimately mutate. And sometimes those mutations wind up being a new variant. And that’s exactly what happened with Delta. And certainly that’s what happened with Omicron.”
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Dr. Fauci Says This About Kids in School
“For individuals who are vaccinated and boosted, uh, what are we supposed to do?” asked Tapper. “I mean, should schools close? If all the students and teachers are vaccinated, and in the case of the teachers boosted…” “Well, right now we can keep the children in school safely,” said Dr. Fauci. “We’ve brought back like 99% of the schools were open. Now we’re in a very difficult situation. What the CDC came out with literally just a day or two ago, was to test….where if you are exposed to a child at a school, rather than having to quarantine or take all the children out of school, you can test the children. And if they are negative, they can stay in school. We are trying as hard we possibly can to keep the schools open.”
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Dr. Fauci Says Here’s What America and the World Needs to Do to End This Pandemic
So what are we trying to do now? What’s the endgame goal? “Well, first of all, we are trying to get a veil of protection over the country with vaccination,’ said Dr. Fauci. “That’s optimal and we’re not there yet. We still have about 50 million people who are unvaccinated, who are yet to be vaccinated, but we’ve gotta realize that it is more than just getting vaccination. Vaccination is an absolutely essential part of this process, but there are other things. And that’s the reason why we stress the idea about masking and testing. People think that vaccine is the answer to everything. We can’t do it without vaccines, but we can do a lot more with other things and testing—for example, both yourself and your family, when you’re getting ready to do something, go out into the community or when you’re gonna have people over your own house. And that’s the reason why we’re stressing and part of the President’s winter plan is expanding greatly. The availability of testing for people, particularly the point of care that you can do yourself and get a result in 15 minutes.” So get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; use rapid tests; wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.