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The One Thing You Shouldn't Do Even If It's Allowed, Says Dr. Fauci

"Until we get that veil of protection, then we are constantly going to be challenged."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek
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COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out nationwide, and many Americans are feeling optimistic about what 2021 will bring, compared to this pandemic year. But there's one thing you can't afford to do right now, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert: You cannot give up on public health measures.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Monday, Fauci reiterated his prediction that coronavirus vaccines will be available to the general public this spring. But he said that prevention efforts such as mask-wearing and social distancing will be necessary until the vaccine is available worldwide.

"Until we get that veil of protection, then we are constantly going to be challenged," he said. Read on for more of his warning—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus

We need more consistency between states, said Fauci

Fauci also criticized the lack of a fully coordinated national response to COVID-19. Since the early days of the pandemic, states have been left to set their own policies on preventing and mitigating the virus. "What we've had was a considerable disparity, with states doing things differently in a non-consistent way," said Fauci. "There have been a lot of factors that have led to the fact that, unfortunately for us, the United States has been the hardest-hit country in the world, but I believe that disparity among how states do things has been a major weakness in our response."

The coronavirus "doesn't know the difference between the border of New York and New Jersey, or Florida and Georgia," he added.

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"We're really at a very critical point"

On Sunday, Fauci warned against a potential rise in cases, driven by the recent holidays. "We very well might see a post-seasonal—in the sense of Christmas, New Years—surge," said Fauci on CNN's State of the Union. "If you look at the slope, the incline of cases that we've experienced as we've gone into the late fall and soon to be early winter, it is really quite troubling."

"When you're dealing with a baseline of 200,000 new cases a day and about 2,000 deaths per day, with the hospitalizations over 120,000, we are really at a very critical point," said Fauci. "As we get into the next few weeks, it might actually get worse."

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

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, get vaccinated when it's available to you, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.