Mar 15, 2020 - Health

Fauci on coronavirus: "We'll be thankful that we're overreacting"

"For a while, life is not going to be how it used to be in the United States," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "We have to just accept that if we want to do what's best for the American public."

Why it matters: Fauci pulled a "full Ginsburg" — appearing on all five major Sunday morning talk shows — in an effort to ensure that Americans understand the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic if the public does not practice social distancing.

  • Fauci warned that the outbreak in the U.S. "could get as bad as Italy" if the public does not take action to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • "But I don't think we're going there if we do the kinds of things that we're publicly saying we need to do," he said.

The big picture: Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" whether the U.S. should consider a 14-day national shutdown like countries in Europe, Fauci deflected but made clear that he thinks Americans should do everything they can to stop the spread of the virus.

  • “I think we should be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting," he said. "I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”

Driving the news: Fauci made a plea for young people to stop flooding bars and restaurants, as viral images showed many did this weekend.

"Younger people should be concerned for two reasons. You are not immune or safe from getting seriously ill. Even though when you look at the total numbers, it's overwhelmingly weighted toward the elderly and those with underlying conditions. But the virus isn't a mathematical formula. There are going to be people who are young who are going to wind up getting seriously ill.
So protect yourself, but remember that you can also be a vector or a carrier. And even though you don't get seriously ill, you could bring it to a person, who could bring it to a person, that would bring it to your grandfather, your grandmother or your elderly relative. That's why everybody has to take this seriously, even the young."
— Anthony Fauci

By the numbers: Fauci said the U.S. has 12,700 ventilators stockpiled. He said the country may not have enough depending on how quickly the virus spreads.

  • "If you don't have enough ventilators, it's obvious people who need it will not be able to get it. That's when you're going to have to make some very tough decisions."
  • Fauci said on "Fox News Sunday" that it's possible that hospitals get overwhelmed "in a worst-case scenario" in which the virus spreads exponentially over a short period of time. "Our job is to not let that worst-case scenario happen."

The U.S. had almost 3,000 cases of the virus and 57 deaths as of Sunday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Of note: The Trump administration is not "seriously" considering domestic travel bans to combat the spread of the virus at this time, but officials are keeping an open mind, Fauci said.

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Why it matters: Fauci's testimony directly contradicted comments made by President Trump, who told reporters in the Oval Office Thursday that "testing has been going very smooth."

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, took part in a livestreamed interview Thursday with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — and pleaded with young people to take coronavirus prevention seriously.

What he said: "Please understand that you will play a major role in ultimately containing this infection by not being careless and avoiding and not listening to the recommendations of physical separation."

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Fauci: "We can't be doing the kinds of things we were doing a few months ago"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said at a press briefing Tuesday that while the risk of contracting the coronavirus for the average American remains "relatively low," the U.S. must realize that "as a nation we can’t be doing the kinds of things we could do a few months ago."

Why it matters: Hundreds of organizations, schools and companies have begun taking this warning seriously, canceling classes, conferences, sporting events and even political rallies as it becomes clear that the U.S. will not be able to stop the spread of the coronavirus into its borders.

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