Dr. Fauci Just Gave This Important COVID Update
As cases of the BA.2 subvariant of COVID continue to tick upward throughout the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, recently appeared on FP Live to analyze exactly where we are at this point in the pandemic, including how Americans can decide what's safe to do in public and when they should wear a face mask. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
COVID Is "Not Behind Us"
Fauci noted that although cases of "90-plus percent of our population has either been vaccinated and boosted or have gotten infected or both. So there's a degree of basic immunity in the community, which is not protecting us specifically from infection, but seems to be protecting us from that surge of it, of hospitalizations, which have stressed the healthcare system during previous eras of this pandemic."
"Bottom line is, we're much better off now than we were a year ago, but we are still dealing with this virus," said Fauci. "It's not behind us. We are still dealing with it. We're having a small bit of an uptick now. And we hope that we don't see a major uptick as we get into the fall, but that remains to be seen."
"It's Going to Be Very Difficult to Prevent Yourself From Getting Infected"
So how do Americans decide what's safe to do, as this uptick in cases continues? Fauci spoke to his own recent decision to skip the White House Correspondents' Dinner. "As long as there is virus that is circulating, people need to evaluate either themselves or with the help of their physician or their healthcare provider, what the level of risk it would be if they get infected," he said. "Now, it's going to be very difficult to prevent yourself from getting infected if you have no caution at all—you just go into indoor settings, no mask at all."
"So you've got to ask yourself, what is my own personal risk?" he added. "Not only for myself—my age, my underlying conditions—and other factors which people may not appreciate, for example, who is living with you in your household. So if you are a healthy 40-year-old person with no underlying conditions, but you have an elderly person or a person who's immune-compromised who's living with you… you could endanger the health and maybe the life of someone close to you."
Fauci's Guidance on Masking
Asked about his personal stance on wearing a face mask in public, Fauci said his stance on masking "is really very much in parallel with the CDC"
"If I would go into an unknown place, an indoor setting, where there are a lot of people around, I have no idea what their status is of vaccine, given my age and my risk aversion because of my other responsibilities, I would wear a mask," he said. "I wouldn't say it's absolutely necessary and you must regulate someone to wear a mask. But I would say you make a personal decision that if you're in a setting like that wear a mask … there are certain circumstances where it's much more likely that the benefit of a mask would really be important."
Long COVID "A Significant Problem"
Fauci was asked about long COVID, which he said scientists are still grappling to understand. "We're doing a lot of studies to try and understand really what the etiology and pathogenesis of that is, because it is really a very important problem," he said. "Anywhere from five to up to 30% of people who get COVID have lingering signs and symptoms well beyond the resolution of the acute infection. We don't know what that is and why that is, but we certainly need to find out, because with so many hundreds of millions of people getting infected throughout the world, that could be a significant problem if we don't find out what it is and what we can do about it."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, 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.