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Dr. Fauci Says You'll Catch Coronavirus From These People

The infectious disease expert spoke out again about COVID-19.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, today said the current pandemic could be as bad as the Spanish Flu of 1918. Here's what else he warned us about, during a Georgetown University Global Health Initiative webinar, including where the virus is spiking.


On The Recent Outbreaks

A paramedic returns to their rig after responding to an incident.

"So obviously we are in the middle of a global pandemic and over 200 plus countries have been involved. It has really in many respects ravaged many, many parts of the world. We have a serious situation here in the United States. It's a mixed bag in the United States. We have areas that have been hit really badly, like the New York metropolitan area is doing quite well now and getting the outbreak under control and trying in a stepwise prudent fashion to open and seem to be doing it successfully. The numbers are quite sobering. You know, we've had over 135,000 deaths in this pandemic for the United States. We have over 3 million cases. If you look globally—close to 600,000 deaths in about 13 or 14 million infections, so this is a pandemic of historic proportions."


On How it's Like the Spanish Flu of 1918

Walter Reed Hospital flu ward during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19, in Washington DC

"I think we can't deny that fact. It's something that I think when history looks back on it, it will be comparable to what we saw in 1918. The situation that is the current challenge that we're facing right now is the resurgences of infections in the South and Southwestern part of the country with, particularly in areas like California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, they're seeing record numbers of cases. Mostly interestingly among young individuals, strongly suggesting the link between attempting to open and in many respects, as we saw pictures of and, photos and films of mostly young people [who] were seen at bars congregated in crowded places—many of them without masks, which really adds fuel to fire. So our challenge today and tomorrow and next week is to try and contain these outbreaks and get us back on the track of being able to not only contain, but also to open, to open safely."


On How the USA is a Mixed Bag

Guard in PPE suit uses infrared thermometer measuring temperature with African male worker scanning for Coronavirus or Covid-19 symptom at office elevator International medical healthcare system

"It's a global serious situation. It's a serious situation in the United States, the United States being a very large country and very heterogeneous, both geographically demographically, and other ways, it's a mixed bag. Some areas of the country are doing really quite well, and others are being challenged as the states that I just mentioned. If you look at the magnitude of the 1918 pandemic where anywhere from 50 to 75 to a hundred million people globally died. I mean, that was the, you know, the mother of all pandemics and truly historic. I hope we don't even approach that with this, but it does have the makings of the possibility of being, you know, approaching that in seriousness though. I hope that the kinds of interventions that we're going to be and are implementing would not allow that to happen, but it does have strong similarities with that in that it was the emergence of a brand new infection that was influenza."


On How This Virus is Unusual

Sick man sleeps covered with a blanket lying in bed with high fever, resting at living room. He is exhausted and suffering from flu with cup of tea with lemon, medicaments. Influenza season.

"And even though it has a wide range of impact from 20 to 40% of the people who have no symptoms to individuals that get moderately sick, very sick, serious enough to go to the hospital, serious enough for intensive care ventilation and even death. So it's a very unusual virus in that. The range of severity is so great and wide, which actually leads to confusion on the part of people as to whether this is really serious. As some people say it is, well, it's not serious for some people, but it's deadly serious for others."


On Cases and Death Rates Rising

Doctors inspecting patient in hospital.

"So the first question is, is this just an increase because of testing versus an increase? Well, there's no doubt that it's both. I mean, obviously the more you test, the more you're going to pick up, so increase in testing is going to give you increases, but there is no doubt that there are more infections. And we know that because the percentage of cases of attack, the cases that are tested that are positive is increasing therefore unequivocally you're seeing truly more new cases. In addition, we're seeing now more hospitalizations, which lag behind infections and we're starting. And we'll see though, not as much as we've seen very likely more deaths. So clearly there are more infections. [As for death rates]: Well, we've gotta be careful because remember the big spike in the death rates that we saw was the terrible situation that they went through in New York City, metropolitan area in situations in Chicago and New Orleans and Detroit, and that death rate happily is going way down. What will happen is that we will likely see some more deaths as people get hospitalized, but I doubt that it's going to go up to the extent that we've seen before."


On the Virus Being Airborne

with sneezing at city street, woman without protective mask while spreading flu,cold, Covid-19

"That is still debatable. In fact, two minutes before I came in, I just read a summary analysis of it. And there's almost certainly that there is a degree of aerosol occurrence. The degree of transmission aerosol wise is very unclear. Most people think it is not the dominant modality of transmission, but the definitive proof has not been put, I don't think it's dominant. I think it actually occurs."


On What America Did Wrong


"It's always easy to look back and say, if we had done this, would it have been different? Some of the things that I believe have an impact on the differences. And I don't think we can fully explain it is that in Europe, for example, and in some of the Asian countries, when they shut down, essentially locked down, they locked down to the tune of about 90, 90 plus percent. They really locked down. We have a very large in a very heterogeneous country with different risks in different places, geographically and demographically. And in reality, even though we locked down considerably, we only locked down, the estimate is somewhere around 50, 55% or so. So when we add the outbreak and in Europe, they went up, they peaked and then they came right down to baseline."


On How Young People Would Rather Be Having Margaritas Right Now

Friends drinking spritz at cocktail bar with face masks

Fauci can see how young people could think: "'It doesn't matter to me. I'd rather be there sipping my margarita at a bar in a crowd.' Well, to me, that's understandable. I'm not blaming that—that's innocent. However, what they need to understand is that given the nature of this outbreak, even if you get infected and have no symptoms at all and never gets sick, you are inadvertently propagating the pandemic. You are part of the problem and not the solution because by propagating the pandemic—I mean, it may not matter to you because you probably are not going to get any symptoms, but the chances are you're going to infect someone who then will infect someone who then will be a vulnerable person who could get sick, who could get hospitalized, who could even die. So not only are you propagating the outbreak, but you're actually putting other people in danger. So I would hope you could appeal to the young people to not only take the individual personal responsibility, but think about your societal responsibility."


On How We're All in This Together

medicine doctor wearing face mask and blue scrubs standing corporate in health care work concept

"That's what I mean when I say we're all in this together, everybody has a place and a role in getting this outbreak under control. And you're not caring whether you get infected or not, is not a good way to get the outbreak under control to get it under control means you don't let yourself get infected and you don't spread to anybody else. And again, I say that with some trepidation because I'm not blaming anyone. And I think people do this innocently. They don't mean to be part of the problem, but inadvertently they are a part of the problem. And that's the message we've got to get across."

As for yourself: No matter where you're going, or how you get there, wear your face mask, social distance, wash your hands frequently, monitor your health, avoid crowds (and bars), and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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