Jul 4, 2020 - Health

Fauci and other experts give advice on day-to-day life in a pandemic

Fauci sits and wears a suit and tie

Anthony Fauci testifies on Capitol Hill on June 30. Photo: Al Drago via Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci and five other public health experts explained their daily coronavirus rituals and precautions to the Washington Post in a Q&A published Friday.

The big picture: The experts gave unanimous answers to some questions — on when they wear a mask and how they avoid eating inside restaurants — but differed on sending kids back to school in the fall.

  • Ezekiel Emanuel, World Health Organization special adviser, says that four factors should be taken into consideration for any activity during the pandemic: (1) enclosed space, (2) duration of interaction, (3) crowds, and (4) forceful exhalation.

Wearing a mask

  • Fauci told the Post that the only time he doesn't wear a mask is when he's alone, at home with his wife, or speaking in public while social distancing.
  • Paul A. Volberding, professor of medicine and emeritus professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco, told the Post that he wears a mask "most of the time, although not inside the house or sitting outside on my second-floor deck."
  • Barry Bloom, Jacobson research professor and former dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Post that he wears a mask every time he leaves the house, "inside and outside, and certainly when I shop."
  • David Satcher, founder of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, told the Post that he wears a mask "All the time. Even when I’m in the office, I keep it on, since people are always coming in and out. The only time I don’t is when I am home."

Avoiding the gym

  • Fauci and Elizabeth Connick, chief of the infectious diseases division and professor of medicine and immunobiology at the University of Arizona, told the Post that they wouldn't go to a gym.
  • Volberding told the Post that he "wouldn’t go eagerly" to a gym. "They can’t disinfect everything all of the time. As for pools, if anything, outdoors yes, indoors no," he said.
  • Linda Bell, South Carolina’s state epidemiologist, told the Post that she "would only run, walk or hike where there were few other people, making it easy to avoid close contact."

Eating in restaurants

  • Fauci and Connick told the Post that they would not eat inside a restaurant. Connick said that she "might consider dining outside, although I would rather not."
  • Volberding told the Post that he "wouldn’t feel comfortable yet with indoor seating, but I’d feel comfortable outside, with distances between the tables. We haven’t gone yet."
  • Satcher told the Post that he has "not dined inside a restaurant in a long time," adding: "I have not dined outside, but I would if I could be six feet away from other people. I do sometimes get takeout."

Sending kids back to school in the fall

  • Fauci said simply: "It really depends on where you live."
  • Volberding told the Post: "The data I’ve heard about suggest that the really young kids are not much of an infection reservoir, so I think it might be okay for preschool, day care and elementary school. The question gets to be harder in high school and college."
  • Bloom told the Post that she would send young kids back to school in the fall, adding: "I believe that the process of socialization is really important, and that long-term deprivation of that is probably going to do more harm than the occasional child becoming infected."

Go deeper: Read the Q&A in the Washington Post

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