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Dr. Fauci Just Said Four Words Every American Should Hear

“The virus has changed,” he warns.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The CDC now recommends even vaccinated people wear their masks indoors in areas with a high or substantial transmission of COVID-19. That means most of the South and many counties throughout America are not safe. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with PBS's Judy Woodruff and gave this big warning about where we are now—and how you can protect yourself and your family. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Dr. Fauci Warned "The Virus Has Changed"

Virus experts are working using microscope in laboratory with protective suit, gloves glasses and mask

Dr. Fauci's four words every American should hear? The virus has changed," said Dr. Fauci. "The recommendations and the discussion that we were having months ago, that the CDC was basing their recommendations on were dealing with what was called the Alpha variant, which is considerably different than the Delta variant."

"The Delta variant has a very unusual capability of spreading much more easily than the Alpha did," he said. "And the other data we're having right now is that, when people get breakthrough infections, when they're vaccinated and they get infected, even when they have a situation where they don't have an advanced disease, they clearly can transmit it to other people."


Dr. Fauci Said Vaccinated People Transmitting COVID Wasn't Common But it Can Happen

Man sneezing into his elbow.

"This is not a common event," said Dr. Fauci. "So I don't want people to be thinking that all kinds of vaccinated people are transmitting it. No, it's a very unusual, rare event, but it occurs. So, when you have vaccinated people who might have a breakthrough infection, and we know now as the fact, as a scientific fact, that they can transmit the virus to an uninfected person, it's for that reason that the CDC made the change in recommendation: if you are vaccinated, if you are in indoor setting, you should still wear a mask."


Dr. Fauci Warned That COVID Was Evasive

Two professional doctors in blue medical uniform standing in front of each other in hospital corridor and looking thoughtful

"We are dealing with an evasive type of a virus," said Dr. Fauci when asked why the advice was changing. "It evolves, so that people need to understand — it's a painful realization, but it's true. We're dealing with a virus that's a wily character, if you want to make a metaphor out of it. It's one that, when the CDC made that recommendation 60 days ago, you were dealing with the Alpha variant, which is very different than the Delta variant we're seeing now. So it isn't a question of the CDC flip-flopping in a vacuum. They are keeping up with the evolution of what's going on with the virus."

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Dr. Fauci Said This Wouldn't Be Happening if People Just Got Vaccinated

African American man in antiviral mask gesturing thumb up during coronavirus vaccination, approving of covid-19 immunization

"We would not be in this situation if we already had now the overwhelming proportion of the population vaccinated," said Dr. Fauci. "We would not be having the viral dynamics that give you a red and an orange zone. If we had the overwhelming proportion of the people vaccinated, we would not be having this conversation. So the solution to all of this is to get vaccinated and get that 100 million people in the country who are eligible for vaccines who have not gotten vaccinated to get vaccinated. And that's the reason why I'm heartened to see that, among the conservative Republicans, among people like Steve Scalise, and even Governor DeSantis himself, who are promoting vaccination, people like Governor Asa Hutchinson, who's out there beating the bushes trying to get people vaccinated. That's the way to go. That's what's going to settle this problem."

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Dr. Fauci Said He Wanted to Keep the Schools Safe

Teacher back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown, disinfecting desks.

"We do know that the science shows now that even people who are vaccinated and get a breakthrough infection can transmit," said Dr. Fauci about schoolchildren being asked to wear masks. "The CDC makes the recommendations. The local school areas make the decision. And the recommendation of the CDC is that we want, above all things, to get the children back to school in person. We don't want to go back to virtual. We don't want to close the schools. We want, when the fall term comes, the children are in school. And in order to keep them safe in that setting, giving the changing situation that has occurred, that's why the recommendation to keep everybody masked when you're dealing with school, even if you're vaccinated."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Young man wearing two face masks.

Follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, 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.

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