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Fauci Just Said to Wear This With Your Face Mask

The nation's top infectious-disease expert on how to keep COVID-19 out of the classroom.

Parents and teachers are worried sick about how to keep themselves and their children safe from the coronavirus as the new school year begins—and whether the summer's continued spike in cases makes school safe at all. That was the takeaway from a press conference that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, held with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday. Even though Connecticut has contained the disease well in recent months, Fauci was asked a flurry of questions about the prospect of a wave of school-related infections this fall—as well as whether or not goggles are necessary. Here's his advice about how to keep yourself and your family safe. And to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 21 Subtle Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


Always Do These Six Things

Woman shopping at supermarket

Fauci reiterated his best practices for preventing coronavirus infection—and second waves. "Universal using of masks, avoid crowded places, six-foot distance (maintain that whether you have a mask or not, but always try to have a mask on), indoors is worse than outdoors (outdoors are always more favorable for no transmission versus indoors), where there is transmission," said Fauci. "The other thing is stay away from bars. That's a big spreader of infection. And finally, wash your hands. Just those things are very important and have been successful in containing outbreaks, as well as preventing the resurgences."


Kids Should Be In School

Teacher and children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.

"I'll say it whether I'm in Connecticut or in any other place: The default position should be to try as best as you possibly can to open up the schools for in-person learning," said Fauci. "It's important for the children because of the psychological benefit, and for the nutrition of children who rely on breakfast and lunches in school for proper nutrition. Number two, there are important negative downstream effects on the parents who have to dramatically modify their own work schedule when you keep children at home."



Ambulance vehicle parked on a street

"Having said that, there's a big however there: The primary consideration should always be the safety, the health and the welfare of the children, as well as the teachers and the secondary effects for parents and other family members," said Fauci, who added that if there is a high rate of infection in your area, you may need to "pull back" on school plans. "You need to be very flexible."


Children Shouldn't Get Sick to "Get It Over With"

Mother and son using wash hand sanitizer gel pump dispenser

Fauci noted that children can become severely ill from the virus (it's rare, but it does happen) and can transmit the virus to other at-risk people, so intentionally exposing them to the virus to gain widespread immunity was a bad idea. "The best thing to do is to try and avoid infection, as opposed to wanting to get infection so that you can get herd immunity," said Fauci. "Avoiding infection is what you want to do."


Young Children May Carry High Viral Loads

Respiratory disease. Unhappy cheerless family using paper tissues while sneezing

"Another recent study showed that when you look at the level of virus in the nasopharynx of children, it's 10 to maybe even multiple more times the amount of virus in the nasopharynx of younger children, compared to older children," said Fauci. "And if you have that amount of virus in your nasal passage, you need to assume that that child can transmit the virus to someone else."


Goggles Are A Good Idea

Child face in a mask and goggles.

Last week, Fauci made headlines when he suggested wearing goggles along with a face mask to prevent coronavirus from entering the body through your eyes. He made his original statement in response to a group of schoolteachers who asked whether that was advisable for them to wear in their classrooms, and reiterated that on Monday. "Since the virus can enter through what we call mucosal surfaces, the mouth, the nose, also the eyes, that it would not be a bad idea if you have the availability of it to wear some sort of covering," said Fauci. "It isn't the firm recommendation, but when you think about it, if you have the opportunity to do it, it could be a good idea to do that."


Social Distancing Applies to School Too

Child boy and girl playing outdoors with face mask protection. School boy breathing through medical mask

"To the extent possible, try and maintain social distancing wherever you are, including in the schools," advised Fauci. "I know sometimes that is physically difficult to do. My daughter is a school teacher in New Orleans, and she tells me, 'Dad, be careful when you say do these things, they may not be technically as easy to do as you think it is.' So I'm aware of that, but we need to try as best as we can."

No matter where you live or if school's on your calendar, remember: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid large gatherings, 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.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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