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Dr. Fauci Says Most People Went Here Before Catching COVID

But "we can turn this around," the infectious disease expert said. Here's how.
woman with surgery protective mask on her face is driving car.

As the holiday season approaches, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said "people getting together in a congregate way, particularly indoors," has been a serious driver of the coronavirus pandemic so far.

Fauci made the remarks during a streaming Q&A at the 2020 Ignatius Forum on Thursday hosted by the Washington National Cathedral when he was asked if there was clear data that events where people gathered without masks—such as political rallies or the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota—have contributed to the spread of coronavirus. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

Small Gatherings a "Great Spreader" Now…

"I think it's pretty clear when you've seen congregate settings where people gathered indoors without a mask," said Fauci, adding "there's no doubt" that the Sturgis rally, where 500,000 people gathered, mostly maskless last August, was a spreading event. The event has been linked to at least 300,000 coronavirus cases.

"We have seen it in clear-cut examples of people getting together in a congregate way, particularly indoors, where you trace after that, there's clear outbreaks," said Fauci. 

Fauci made his comments on a day when the U.S. hit another record for daily cases, in a season when small gatherings and individual households have begun to drive the virus' surge.

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…But "We Can Turn This Around"…

However, Fauci said that a national lockdown wasn't necessary at this point. "I do not believe at this point that we do need to lock down," he said. "We have to leave that on the table. We're not going to just push it off the table. I don't think we need to do it, because my experience is that when you, as a group, as a nation implement the public health measures … we can turn this around without locking the country down." 

Those public health measures Fauci has often advocated: Universal mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, socializing outdoors more than indoors, observing a social distance of six feet from people who aren't in your household, and frequent hand washing.

Additionally, Fauci and other officials such as Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, have urged Americans to reconsider Thanksgiving and holiday travel this year to avoid COVID-19.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says You Don't Have to Do This Anymore to Avoid COVID

…By "Not Letting Your Guard Down"

State officials recently reiterated that advice. "As it relates to your private setting, we just have to plead with people to not let your guard down, to keep your gatherings as small as possible and to keep fighting this," said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday. "Don't let your hair down, even when you're in your own home, even when you're celebrating holidays with your loved ones." Also this week, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a 10-person limit on gatherings in private homes, calling them a "great spreader." 

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: 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.