Dr. Fauci Just Issued This Warning to Americans for Labor Day Weekend
Don't repeat the mistakes we made on July 4th, says the nation's top immunologist.
Labor Day is almost here, and if you're like many Americans, you'd prefer to spend the twilight of summer surrounded by your closest friends and family. But the nation's top immunologist has an important message for you: avoid any and all gatherings that are indoors.
During a White House teleconference with state governors this week—the audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press—Anthony Fauci, MD, advised all Americans to avoid assembling in any large gatherings this Labor Day weekend that could potentially become superspreader events. He also noted that containing the virus this holiday weekend will be a crucial factor in whether or not the country gets a "running start" in curbing the coronavirus into the fall.
Though Fauci emphasized that he has "great deal of faith in the American people" to continue practicing the methods designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19—such as washing their hands, practice social distancing, and wearing masks—he reminded the governors that warm weather holidays haven't been good for COVID-19 containment efforts.
Surges in COVID-19 cases followed both the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays. Nine states saw sharp rises in infections in the weeks that followed Memorial Day, and many locations reported a surge in cases following July 4th, which arrived shortly after several states had reopened bars.
Many public health officials pointed to crowded drinking establishments as the primary reason for a post-July 4th spike of infections.
The superspreader events Fauci referred to (when a few individuals can infect a large crowd) have mostly occurred in tightly packed indoor facilities where aerosolized particles spread far more quickly—like meatpacking plants, church choir practices, and particularly the crowded bars where people often yell over loud music.
Meanwhile, visiting with others outside—and practicing good social distancing—is a far safer way for people to congregate. Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, drew attention for encouraging outdoor activities at the beginning of the summer, despite the still ongoing spread of COVID-19, and noted how people were unlikely to get infected in advance of Memorial Day weekend.
For what it's worth, it's not the first time that Fauci has asked Americans to take their fun outside. "Outdoors is always better than indoors," Fauci told Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo in a Facebook Live interview in August, when he advised Americans to get outside as much as possible while the weather permits.
So plan a small outdoor picnic or barbecue with select friends and family and follow the guidelines you hopefully know by heart. And whatever you do, don't hit up your local pub. And for more ways to keep COVID-19 contained, be sure you know The Single Worst Thing You Do Every Time You Go Outside.