Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told CBS Evening News presenter and editor-in-chief Norah O’Donnell that the United States must redouble its efforts to contain the coronavirus as the fall and winter months begin.
“What we really need to do is double up” on preventive measures like social distancing and wearing masks, Fauci said in an interview on Wednesday. He noticed the coronavirusin 37 states a worrying increase affecting more than three-quarters of the country.
“That’s not a good sign when you step into the cooler weather,”
“They sound very simple, but people don’t and that’s why we have an upward trend in some cases,” he said.
The spike could get worse as families travel across the country and gather for the holiday season. Fauci said some beloved traditions, like grand Thanksgiving gatherings, may need to be avoided this year to keep people safe.
“Unfortunately, that’s a risk when people from out of town gather indoors,” he said. “It’s unfortunate because it’s such a sacred part of American tradition – the family gathers for Thanksgiving. But that’s a risk.”
When asked what he would advise Americans making plans for the November vacation, Fauci said they should evaluate the status of cases across the country.
“Given the fluid and dynamic nature of the current spread and surge in infections, I think people should be very careful and circumspect at social gatherings, especially when family members might be at risk because of their age or their underlying condition,” said he, adding, “You may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice this social gathering unless you are fairly certain that the people you are dealing with are not infected.”
He said that his own family’s Thanksgiving festival “will be very different this year.” He shared that his children, who live in three different states, have chosen not to return home to protect his health as he is at greater risk at 79.
“Because of their concern for me and my age, they have decided that they will not come home for Thanksgiving – although all three of them would love to come home for Thanksgiving.”
“Very pleased” with President Trump’s recovery
Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, also spoke about President Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis and recovery.
“We’re very, very pleased” with how well Mr. Trump is doing, he said. But he didn’t warn everyone whowill be so happy.
After testing positive for the coronavirus earlier this month, the president received a series of aggressive and experimental treatments at Walter Reed Medical Center and declared himself “cured”. Fauci reiterated on Wednesday that there is no cure for COVID-19.
On his return to the White House, Mr Trump urged supporters not to be afraid of the virus or to let it “dominate” their lives – an approach Fauci does not welcome.
“It’s like saying someone was driving at 95 mph in a car and had no accident, so I can go ahead and accelerate and not have an accident. There is a lot of variability,” said Fauci. “We are very happy that the president did so well when he was infected with the coronavirus, but there are also many people who arewhich wasn’t as good as the president. The president was lucky. “
Fauci said he spoke to Mr. Trump last week but would not comment on what they discussed. He said he hadn’t spoken to the president’s Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The White House said Monday that President Trump has repeatedly run negative tests and he’s resumed a full itinerary of campaign rallies in Florida, Iowa and Pennsylvania.
His swift return to the campaign affected some experts who warned that it could endanger those around him and his own recovery. Fauci said Wednesday that he signed the president’s attendance at an NBC town hall Thursday evening after looking at the “entirety” of COVID-related tests the president conducted.
“Myself and one of my colleagues, Dr. Cliff Lane, have come to the conclusion that he does not pose a threat to spreading the virus to others,” said Fauci. When asked if the president is putting the people traveling with him at risk at this point, Fauci said: “The answer to that is no, it is not.”
Asked about theFauci said, “Absolutely sure it does,” but noted that so far there is only anecdotal evidence and experts do not know how common it really is.
Parts of Norah O’Donnell’s interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci will air on the CBS Evening News Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS and 10:00 p.m. ET on CBSN.