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Dr. Fauci Just Said Three Words Every American Should Hear

The top infectious disease expert expressed words of warning—and words of hope.

As coronavirus deaths top 169,000 in the USA, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the Coronavirus Task Force, sat down for an online interview with The Washington Post's Geoff Edgers to talk about how we can get the virus under control. During the interview, he said three words every American should hear—as well as what to do when a package arrives, when to take off your mask and more. Read on for his essential advice, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


On How He Washes Deliveries to His House

Amazon shipping box on a wooden floor in front of a door inside a house.

"We know that the virus for a limited period of time can live on what are called fomites, which are inanimate objects. So what I do, for example, when something comes—the package, you know, I don't scrub it down. I just leave it on the side for a couple of days before I open it. And even that is probably overkill, because most of the things we're talking about, this is fundamentally a respiratory-borne virus. Even though there is the possibility, if not the reality, of some small part of it being transmitted by things that you can touch. So I think washing hands really so much obviates the need to be cleaning everything around you. The one thing you could do very easily."


On the Primary and Secondary Benefit of a Face Mask

woman coughing in medical mask on her face

"A mask that's on you is much more efficient in preventing droplets and viral containing aerosols out to the outside. It is also obviously protective against things like droplets that come your way. But the major reason that masks became universally recommended was the realization that there are so many people—up to 45% of people who are infected, who don't even know it because they don't have any symptoms. If we all assume that we're all infected and we're all without symptoms, so we're not going to get sick, but there's a danger that we might affect somebody else: That's the reason for having a mask. You have the secondary benefit that if there's somebody out there who's infected that you're protecting yourself. But if everybody would wear a mask, it would be I'm helping society and society is helping me. That's the reason for that."


On How He Feels When He Sees People Indoors Without a Mask

conversation at bar

"My blood evaporates when I see people inside in a bar or in a crowded area…because of the close proximity without a mask is really not a good thing to do. What's even worse is indoors in a crowd without a mask with poor ventilation, because outdoors is always better than indoors. And I think here's where people get confused…If you're going to be in a group like that, which there's really no reason to be doing that, that even though outdoors, dispels things much better than indoors, when you're that close, you should be wearing a mask—where people get confused is that at every aspect of outdoors, you might want to keep a mask with you, but you don't have to necessarily wear it."


On When You Don't Need to Wear Your Mask

Happy senior man walking and relaxing in park

"If you're going on a hike in the woods and there's nobody around for a thousand yards, you don't really need to wear a mask. What you want to do is have it with you. So that if you happened to be put into a situation where there is an inability to physically separate, you could immediately go, okay, do that. Like, last evening I was jogging in my neighborhood and I could see…like a couple of hundred yards ahead of me. Nobody was there. You know, I had my mask like this and I was running along. And that, as soon as you start to pass people where you can't stay a good distance, just don't do that period."


On Voting In Person

Vote Place Sign At Election Place

"I likely will vote in person, but under the circumstances that, if what I see in grocery stores, what I see at Starbucks, what I see is you get six or more feet, X stand here and don't move until the person ahead of you. I believe that the polling stations are going to do that. If they do six feet, I wouldn't have any problem, but I absolutely understand people who have a concern about that, who should be able to vote by mail."


On The Many Manifestations of This Virus

Tired woman lying in bed can't sleep late at night with insomnia

"This is the only pathogen I've ever seen that has such a wide range of manifestations that you have to scratch your head. There are 40% of the people don't get any symptoms at all. Generally young people do not get sick very much nor they require hospitalizations with exceptions that are real exceptions….Some people are in bed for weeks with residual that lasts maybe months or so, maybe longer. We don't have enough experience to know how long that is. Some require hospitalizations, some require intensive care, some require ventilation and some die. If you look at the statistics, clearly the elderly and those with underlying conditions have the worst problem. And the likelihood they'll have a poor outcome. The problem is that younger individuals who likely will not get any symptoms with the exceptions that we know, they likely won't get any symptoms."


On Younger People Infecting Others

Friends drinking spritz at cocktail bar with face masks

"There is the understandable perception on their part. And I would say innocently, because they're not thinking about it is that: 'If I get infected and I get no symptoms, who cares? I'm in a vacuum, I'm not going to hurt anybody else.' That's incorrect because inadvertently you are propagating an outbreak that is killing some people because by your getting infected or not caring, if you're getting infected, what you don't yet realize, but it's true that it is likely that even though you have no symptoms, that you will pass it on to someone else who will pass it on to someone else who will pass it onto someone's mother or father, grandmother, wife on chemotherapy for breast cancer and immune-deficient child. So when you're dealing in a global pandemic, and in this case, a domestic epidemic, you're not in a vacuum, you're either going to be part of the solution by protecting yourself, or are you going to be part of the problem of propagating it?"


On Your Personal Responsibility

woman put on a fabric handmade mask on her face

"We're trying to instill in people: you have your own personal responsibility to not hurt yourself, but you have a societal responsibility for not propagating something that is bad for the economy, bad for employment, and happens to be killing some people. A lot of people: 164,000 people have already died in this country. So this pandemic is a really, really bad thing. So why do you want to be part of the propagation of it? And that's the reason why in our divisive society has become really, really driven. You have people on one side and people on the other. So instead of looking at public health as a vehicle or a mechanism to safely open up the country, some people look at public health as an obstacle to open the country. And it shouldn't be that way….It should be society pulling as a whole to get this darn thing under control."


On Tucker Carlson Criticising Him

 Fox News Channel logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

"He's the guy that really loves me, right?…Well, I'm not concerned that what he says. It's a little bit, I mean, I think you could say that when he does that, that triggers some of the craziness in society to start threatening me, actually threatening me, which actually happens. I mean, who would have thought when I was in medical school, doing things to save people's lives that have to be going around with a security detail? I mean, that's really ridiculous…. I've just heard from people that he's trashing me on TV, fine. If he wants to do that, let him do it. I'm not going to get distracted by that."


On What Many People Don't Understand About All This

Chemist Adjusts Samples in a Petri Dish with Pincers and then Examines Them Under Microscope

"People don't understand…that science is an iterative self-correcting process. When you're involved with a static situation that doesn't change, then the scientific facts and what you use as evidence to make decisions, policy recommendations shouldn't change much at all. But when you're dealing with a moving target and evolving pandemic with which we've never had any prior experience, you've got to make decisions and recommendations based on the data and the evidence that you have at any given time. But as the situation evolves, so too, will the evidence. So, too, will the data and you need to be humble enough and flexible enough to change things based on what the latest data and evidence that is interpreted by some people as: 'Scientists are wrong, they're changing their mind. They're fooling us.' No, what you're doing is you're being flexible enough as you learn more and more and more to make the data and the evidence drive your recommendations."


On the Three Words Every American Should Hear

Woman celebrating without mask

"This will end. I mean, when you're in something that's so stressful, you have to worry about despair setting in like, 'My God, I'm in a hopeless situation.' It's not, it will end. We will get out of this and we will return to normal. So it's really one of those situations: Don't give up. Don't despair, don't throw caution to the wind. We can end this, the combination of together with public health measures and the scientific advances of vaccines and therapies and preventions, I will guarantee you that." As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask up, 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 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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