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Dr. Fauci Tells Americans "Do What You're Told"

He loves our “independent spirit” but we all need to follow the fundamentals—now.
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

As coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise in nearly every state, with hospitals overflowing in some, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, is trying to get one message out: the power to stop the virus is in our hands, as Americans. We have to work together—and follow the public health fundamentals, doing as we're told—in order to curb its wrath. Fauci made the remarks during a streaming Q&A on Friday at the 2020 Ignatius Forum, hosted by the Washington National Cathedral. Read on to hear his warning, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci Said Public Health Requires the Public Taking Precautions Together

Dr. Fauci was asked if there was a reason other countries seem to have done better than America at containing the virus. "Right now it seems that every country is suffering," he bemoaned. Americans, he says "are often compared with countries that are not comparable to us. We are not a little island of five million people that we can shut off. We're not a country that would accept if a ruler tells us, 'You must do this.' I was talking with our UK colleagues just today, who were saying the UK is very similar to where we are now—an outbreak because each of our countries have that independent spirit, but we don't want to be told what to do. Well, I understand that, but now is the time to do what you're told. And I think it really is something that we should be doing right now."

The moderator asked Fauci if we, as Americans, had all done something terribly wrong—is that why the virus is spreading so terribly? "Well, I wouldn't say it's horribly wrong," answered Fauci. "I think what we have not done—and it isn't just the United States, I think if you look at what's going on in Europe, in the UK, now, they are in many respects in the same boat as we are with major surges—but would you look at what happened in our own country, we did not act in a unified way."

He referenced the founding of our nation. "One of the wonderful things about our country that I love so much is that we're the United States of America and we're a Federalist country and we have states' independence and [it is] important that they are that way. However, when you're dealing with an infectious disease—the infectious disease doesn't know the difference of the border between Mississippi and Louisiana or between Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and an infectious disease means the entire country. We did not approach it that way."

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Dr. Fauci Feels We Have Had Too Many "Individual Approaches"

Fauci says our very strength—individualism—has become a negative when it matters most. "We have too [many] individual approaches towards how we we're going to handle the outbreak," he says. "So our baseline never came down to the low level that we wanted it to be. So when community spread came in, as we try to open the country, it just soared right up. And it's a self-propagating issue because the more community spread you get, the more difficult it is to contain it by identification, isolation and contact tracing, because there's so much of it going on. It becomes very difficult. That's the problem we're in right now, we have an enormous amount of community spread."

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place, and follow Fauci's fundamentals: Wear your 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.