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Dr. Fauci Says This is the Most Important Thing You Can Do Right Now

“If we can hang on and implement the public health measures, help is really on the way.”
Director Of Nat'l Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Discusses Global Health Threats

Of the few, simple measures that could save you from getting—or spreading—coronavirus (as cases rise to record levels), Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and member of the coronavirus task force, has been clear. He advises a universal wearing of masks, maintaining physical distance, avoiding congregate settings or crowds, doing more outdoors, as opposed to indoors and washing hands frequently. Those are the most important things you can do. But when asked—in an interview with the USA TODAY Editorial Board—he tinged his answer with a bit of cheerleading. Read on to hear more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

Dr. Fauci Said the #1 Most Important Thing You Can Do Is This

"What's the most important thing for people to do between now and when the cavalry arrives?" he was asked. The calvary referenced is the coronavirus vaccine, two of which—from Pfizer and Moderna—have been shown to be 95% effective in trials.

"The cavalry is on its way," answered Fauci. "It's not here yet, but it's going to come. We have an even better than expected efficacy signal on two vaccines. We're likely to already start having distribution of doses, hopefully by the end of December but certainly no later than at the beginning of January. If we can hang on and implement the public health measures, help is really on the way."

"What about COVID fatigue and denialism?" asked the Board.

"Even in some of the states where they're getting really hit badly, we're hearing people even denying there's a problem as their hospitals are getting filled," he said. 

For example, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to soar across the country, no region better exemplifies the trouble at hand than the Dakotas. North Dakota has the world's highest mortality rate and its governor has only recently implemented new prevention measures, after receiving flak for telling COVID-positive health workers to keep working while ill. Meanwhile, South Dakota's governor, Kristi Noem, has taken the national stage to rail against restrictions of any kind, saying the responsibility for public health was on her constituents, not their government. Her state is struggling with the nation's highest positivity rate, with 1,000 cases a day.

Jodi Doering is an emergency room nurse in South Dakota and lives in a small town. She posted a viral tweet about how her patients deny they're dying of COVID right before they die of COVID. "I think the hardest thing to watch is that people are still looking for something else and they want a magic answer and they don't want to believe that COVID is real," Doering told CNN's New Day. "And the reason I tweeted what I did is it wasn't one particular patient. It's just a culmination of so many people and their last dying words are, um, this can't be happening. It's not real. And when they should be spending time FaceTiming their families, they're filled with anger and hatred. And it just made me really sad the other night. And, um, I just can't believe that those are going to be their last thoughts and words."

Says Fauci of the denial: "I think that's a spillover of a combination of fatigue for people who are trying (to stay safe) and denial for people who always think that everything is fake news. It really becomes an unprecedented public health challenge."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Says Most People Did This Before Catching COVID

How to Survive the Pandemic

No matter where you live, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place, and "hang on" until there's a vaccine available: 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, stay outdoors more than indoors, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.