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Fauci Just Said This Puts You at 'Greater Risk' For Virus

Scientists—including him—are still learning about it, he says.
Man with allergy or an infection sneezing

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, experts have said that the virus is primarily transmitted person-to-person, through contact with large respiratory droplets produced by coughs or sneezes. But there's an additional worrying possibility for transmission, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, on Monday, and he's still learning about it. Read on to find out what it is, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

1

On the Threat of Aerosolization

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It's possible that smaller, lighter droplets of coronavirus can float in the air instead of dropping to the ground as quickly as scientists thought, enabling people to inhale them and become infected—a process called aerosolization.

"I think that there certainly is a degree of aerosolization," said Fauci during an Aug. 3 interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association. "But I'm going to take a step back and make sure that we learn the facts before we start talking about it."

Fauci said he was conferring with particle physicists who've advised him "we have a little bit of a distortion in our understanding of what can actually stay in the air longer" and that aerosolization of coronavirus might be more possible than previously thought.

2

This One Thing Is "Much Clearer"

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Fauci said it's become "much clearer now" that "if you have any degree of aerosolization and you are in an indoor space where the air is being circulated, it makes sense to assume that that is a much greater risk than if you are outside."

3

The Thing Scientists Need to Focus On

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"We need to pay a little bit more attention now to the recirculation of air indoors, which tells you that mask-wearing indoors when you're in a situation like that is something that is as important as wearing masks when you're outside dealing with individuals who you don't know where they came from or who they are," said Fauci.

4

One Potential Treatment Looks Good—But Plasma Is Still Iffy

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Fauci spoke positively about the steroid dexamethasone, which "was shown very clearly in a randomized placebo-controlled trial [to be good] for advanced disease—people on ventilators, people with oxygen—but not good for people in early disease. It significantly diminishes the death rate for people in the hospital requiring oxygen, which we really do need."

Fauci said it was important to develop therapies for early disease, to prevent newly infected people from requiring hospitalization, and that a number of trials were ongoing. One was on monoclonal antibodies, and another was convalescent plasma, in which blood plasma from people who already had coronavirus is transfused into current patients to boost their immune response.

"There is a lot of activity to try and determine if convalescent plasma does or does not work," said Fauci. "It's still a bit of an open question. We need to nail that down with the proper clinical trial."

5

No One Knows What Will Happen This Fall

Medical staff member with mask and protective equipment performs Coronavirus nasal swabs test tubes at drive-through testing point in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
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"I do not know, nor can anyone know what the fall is going to bring," said Fauci. "You look at our numbers now…we're right in the middle of the first wave here."

For the past several weeks, the U.S. has reported more than 60,000 coronavirus cases a day. Over the past week, there have been about 1,000 deaths per day.

"We've got to get those numbers down. If we don't get them down, then we're going to have a really bad situation in the fall," said Fauci.

6

How to Avoid COVID-19

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Do your part—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 don't miss Dr. Fauci's 10 Worst Coronavirus Mistakes You Could Make.

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