Dr. Fauci Says This Is Exactly Where the U.S. Went Wrong With COVID

Coronavirus cases are surging in many states because the country didn't do this, Fauci explains.

Over the past few weeks, Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that the surge in cases across the U.S. are the result of states reopening aggressively, before it was safe to do so. But in a new interview with Stanford Medicine's Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, on Monday, Fauci explained that there's more to it than that when you look at the U.S. as a whole. He explained plainly: "We did not shut down entirely and that's the reason why when we went up."

"We started to come down and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high—about 20,000 infections a day," Fauci said, as reported by Reuters. "Then as we started to reopen, we're seeing the surges that we're seeing today as we speak in California, your own state, in Arizona, in Texas, in Florida, and several other states."

Fauci has recently mentioned the heterogeneity of the United States and the specific challenges brought about by regional differences within the country in terms of containing the spread of the coronavirus. Though he didn't name states in particular, Fauci told the FiveThirtyEight podcast on July 9: "Despite the guidelines and the recommendations to open up carefully and prudently, some states skipped over those and just opened up too quickly."

Map of united states with coronavirus and quarantine signs

In his Stanford interview, Fauci didn't provide all bad news, however, suggesting that many of the states that are seeing surges in cases can lessen the spread by simply following the CDC's basic guidelines that include physical distancing, wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and frequent hand-washing. "Those things, as simple as they are, can turn it around," he said. "I think we can do that and that's what we've got to do."

Fauci also made clear that another shutdown is not necessarily inevitable. "You don't necessarily need to shut down again, but pull back a bit, and then proceed in a very prudent way of observing the guidelines, of going from step to step," he explained.

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On July 8, Fauci issued a similar warning about rolling back on reopening in an interview with The Wall Street Journal podcast, The Journal. "We've got to just tighten things up," he said, telling states in trouble to "close the bars," ensure that restaurants have "very good seating," and require patrons to wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines.

"Do it in a measured way, the way the guidelines delineate," he said. "If you do that, the chances of getting a surge are much, much less than if you just jump over things." And for more on COVID spikes right now, check out The CDC Warns That These Are the Next 10 Coronavirus Hotspots.

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