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Dr. Fauci Just Said Don't Go Here Ever

Americans now face a month or more of "precarious risk," he said.
Woman covid sad face mask

The U.S. is experiencing a coronavirus surge that is worse than previous waves of the disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said on Tuesday. "If you look across the United States, we are really in a public health crisis right now, because we're having a surge the likes of which is worse than the surges that we all saw in the late winter/early spring," said Fauci during an online Q&A with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. 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.

We're living in a time of "precarious risk"

He explained: The first and second surges—which involved the Northeastern corridor and Southern states, respectively—increased daily COVID-19 infections from 40,000 to between 60,000 and 70,000 nationwide. Today, new cases range from 100,000 to 200,000 new cases a day, with 1,000 to 2,000 deaths and more than 90,000 hospitalizations. 

"This is something that is quite problematic," said Fauci. 

He added that cases tend to surge two to three weeks after a precipitating event, such as Thanksgiving. Two more—Christmas and New Year's—follow close behind.

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"I think we're going to be looking at 30 or more days of a period of time of precarious risk," said Fauci. "Because even though we're so-called out of the Thanksgiving season, we are rapidly going to emerge into the season of people, shopping, crowding, preparing, perhaps even the ill-advised office parties, if they can exist anymore, and then the Christmas holidays and then New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. So we have about a month or more of a situation where it is in our hands right now to see if we can mitigate it."

As for how to mitigate it, Fauci repeated the advice he's given since the beginning of the pandemic. "Uniform wearing of masks, physical distancing, avoiding crowds and congregate settings, particularly indoors. As much as you possibly can, outdoors versus indoors. Wash your hands frequently."

"Avoid the things that we know are pleasant and desirable, though they are dangerous now, like family and friends getting together, ten or twelve inside a house with poor ventilation." 

Fauci and other experts have warned that those gatherings can become super-spreader events, as a single asymptomatic person who's infected with COVID-19 could spread it to everyone present. He also warned against restaurants and bars. "It's bars, indoor seating at restaurants — particularly at full capacity — and when you're in a restaurant, it's very tough if not impossible to eat and drink with a mask on, unless you figure out something that I don't know about," he said. "So when you're in a restaurant and particularly if you're at full capacity without good ventilation, then you've got a problem, but bars are particularly problematic." 

Fauci noted that there is light at the end of the tunnel. This month's news that three potential vaccines proved effective in late-stage trials means that vaccinations will likely begin this month. In the meantime, the challenge is to ensure that health systems aren't swamped with COVID-19 cases. "We just need to hang together a bit longer," he said. "So many states are at the brink of being overrun with regard to their capability of taking care of people in a proper way, particularly in intensive care."

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How to survive this pandemic

It bears repeating: 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.

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