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Dr. Fauci Reveals "Disturbing" Way You'll Get COVID

"It was the game-changer," the infectious disease expert said.

One "disturbing" characteristic of COVID-19 made it clear the battle against coronavirus would be unlike any other disease-prevention effort, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert: The fact that so many cases were passed along by people who had no symptoms. "We're seeing that even people without symptoms of transmitting it, and that to me is something that was the game-changer," said Fauci in an interview on Wednesday with California Gov. Gavin Newsom. "It was the game-changer in everything we did." It changed testing, because only testing symptomatic people would miss those who were asymptomatic, he explained. For more about how you'll potentially catch COVID-19, read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

This asymptomatic spread is one reason why masks are so important

Additionally, "Mask wearing became much more important, because if you're only worried about somebody who's symptomatic, then you'll know who you're dealing with," said Fauci. "But if you don't know who's infected, then everybody should be wearing a mask, which is the real fundamental rationale for saying we need universal and uniform wearing of masks."

The stealthy nature of the disease took even Fauci—who has served six presidential administrations over four decades—aback. "I guess you could use the word surprising. It was a combination of surprising and disturbing," he said. 

RELATED: This is the #1 Way You'll Get COVID, According to Doctors

"I've never seen a virus like this"

"The other thing that has really been an issue is that I've never seen a virus like this—and I've been dealing with viral outbreaks for the last, you know, 40 years—where you have such a range of involvement of seriousness, from 40% of the people who get infected and have absolutely no symptoms at all, to those who have symptoms," added Fauci. "About 80% have mild to moderate symptoms that generally require staying at home for a few days, maybe sometimes a couple of weeks."

And then about 20% to 25% of COVID patients get severe enough symptoms that they require hospitalization and intensive care, "and then they die," said Fauci. "Hence the 335,000 deaths that we've had so far. Usually when you have a disease that is so very real, it can kill people, not just old people and not just people with underlying conditions. But now we're starting to see more younger, relatively healthy people can get involved." 

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

That's what Fauci considers "the mystery" of COVID-19—how differently it can behave in different people. It is "one of the reasons why we have a messaging difficulty, because most of the people who do well are young people," he said. 

According to the CDC, more than 19.4 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., and more than 337,000 people have died.

How to survive this pandemic

As for yourself, 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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