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Dr. Fauci Says Here's Why to Be Extra Careful Now

FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
Doctor Anthony Fauci

Although coronavirus cases are going down, there is cause for concern: The UK variant of the virus, already deemed more transmissible, has now been found by UK experts to be more deadly. "The overall picture is one of something like a 40 to 60 percent increase in hospitalization risk, and risk of death," Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist, said in an interview on Saturday, according to the New York Times. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the paper Friday night that this is why he's only "cautiously optimistic" that the worst is over. Read on for more about how you can avoid the lethal variant—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

Dr. Fauci Says We're Going in the Right Direction But May Have a "Spike in Infections"

"The thing that I have some optimism about — but I would have to underscore that it's cautious optimism — is that, even though the cases are high relative to this time last year, they are on the down slope," he said. "And as every day goes by, it looks like it gets less and less. If you look at a month or so ago, we were having 300,000 to 400,000 cases a day. Now for the last few days in a row, we've had less than 100,000 cases, which is remarkably diminished."

"As the slopes keep going down, we're going in the right direction," Fauci continued. "Superpose upon that the fact that we now have highly efficacious vaccines that are being rolled out. We are vaccinating more and more people each day. And we will have more and more vaccines available as the weeks and the months go by. So it looks like we're heading in the right direction. Whether or not it stays in that direction is going to depend on a bunch of things: Are people going to continue to be careful and to implement public health measures? What is going to happen with the variants? Are they going to make things more difficult by having an additional spike in infections? I don't know."

"The big wild card in this is really the variants," he continued. "Because the variant that is in the U.K. that is likely going to become more dominant in the U.S., the models tell us that will happen probably by the end of March. If we don't adhere to public health measures the way we should, that could take off on us. That's the reason why I say I'm cautiously optimistic because we could turn around and go the opposite direction pretty quickly."

RELATED: If You Feel This, You May Have Already Had COVID, Says Dr. Fauci

How to Stay Safe During This Pandemic

As with any event, "If you're going to do it indoor, you've got to have the capacity significantly less than if you do it outdoor. Outdoor is a big safety valve in the sense of the transmission of respiratory disease. Outdoor is always better than indoor."

So follow Fauci's fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.