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Dr. Fauci Says Here's How to 'Safely' Leave the House

“When you get up to 5 to 10, you really got a problem,” he said of infection rates.
A family walking holding hands wearing face masks in the middle of pandemic

With COVID-related deaths surpassing 207,000 in America, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, discussed how to determine if your neighborhood is safe, in an interview with ABC News' Start Here podcast. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Look at Your Area's Infection Rate

How to tell if your neighborhood is safe? "We've tried to mainly categorize things as being in a dark green or green zone—dark green is really good, and the level is way, way down of test positivity—yellow zone, orange zone, red zone," says Fauci. "And there are pretty clear guidelines about how you should do what we all want to do. We all want to open up the economy. We do not want to revert to shutting, right?"

"So what's the guideline," asked host Brad Mielke. "What makes you green again?"

"You want to be, everybody wants to be around 1% or less, 2% okay. 3%," answered Fauci about infection rates. "When you get up to 5 to 10, you really got a problem. Okay. Really got to tighten up."

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Fauci Does Not Want a Lockdown

Fauci continued that his public health fundamentals were not meant to be a buzzkill, but to save lives and in fact lead to more healthy people—and healthy businesses. "I want the opportunity to say this again because unfortunately with the divisiveness that we have people take it out of context: I believe, and the overwhelming majority of my public health colleagues, my colleagues who are involved in infectious diseases, feel that we should use public health deaths and public health activities to help us to open the economy," he said. "Don't interpret it as an obstacle to opening the economy," he continued. "Because if you do things the way we have prescribed, namely, a gateway of phase one, phase two, phase three, without jumping over these benchmarks that you have to look for, you can safely get people back to work, get the economy going. It's what you do in the extremes. You either think it's all shut down or, you know, caution to the wind and that we can't do that. That gets you in trouble."

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How to Avoid COVID-19

Fauci's comments come the same week Florida—once a virus hot spot—has reopened bars and nightclubs to full capacity, with the infection rate at 5% or below. "That is very concerning to me," Fauci told Good Morning America. "When you're dealing with community spread, and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together, particularly without masks, you're really asking for trouble." He reiterated: "When I say that, people get concerned that we're talking about shutting down," he said. "We're not talking about shutting anything down. We're talking about common sense-type of public health measures that we've been talking about all along."

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.