Aug 13, 2020 9 mins, 37 secs

“Some people think that public health measures are kind of the obstacle to opening up.

“You can't run away from the numbers of people who've died, the number of people [who] are getting hospitalized, the surges we're seeing,” says Fauci.

For places in the middle, reopening needs to be modest and involve things like modifying school schedules so only some kids are present on certain days or adding outdoor classes.

“I would hope that we could get that way—I don't think that's going to be the case [with a COVID-19 vaccine].” He adds that while he would “gladly accept” a COVID-19 vaccine that is 50 percent to 75 percent effective, “that would mean not that you could throw caution to the wind and do nothing else.”.

But then what we saw was something that would be inevitable if we didn't do the kinds of things that we've been talking about intensively of late, and that is, we did not have a universal, in the sense of everybody pulling in the same direction, of the kinds of things that can contain and slow down an outbreak, the things that we've spoken about: distancing, masks, avoiding crowds, outdoors better than indoors, washing hands, doing things like closing bars, where appropriate, because that seems to be a hot spot of transmission?

But when you look at other parts of the country, this is the thing that's disturbing to me is that we're starting to see the inkling of the upticks in the percent of the tests that are positive, which we know now from sad past experience, that that's a predictor that you're going to have more surges.

So unless we all pull together to get that down, and we don't have disparities in some states are doing this, and some states are doing that, we're going to continue to have this up and down.

I have said over and over again, and that's the reason why I welcome a dialogue with you, Deborah, to get the message across, that there are five or six things that if everyone at a minimum did that, we know from history of other countries, we know from what we've seen in our own country, that if you do that, you can turn around the surges and prevent further surges.

And of the things we keep talking about, I mean, it's not that difficult of the universal wearing of masks, the social distancing, the avoiding crowds, favoring things that you do outdoors versus indoors, washing hands, et cetera.

The issue is that because of the divisiveness that we've seen in this country, we have, I think, a maybe understandable because of the differences but unfortunate divergence where people say either, lock down completely, or, let it rip—have crowds go to bars.

Some people think that public health measures are kind of the obstacle to opening up.

So when young people, particularly, because there's no doubt about it that statistically, young people do much, much better from the standpoint of any bad outcome than elderly individuals and those with underlying conditions.

However, we're starting to see more and more that young people, even otherwise well young people, can get into serious trouble and even may have some long-term residual effects.

But accepting the data that young people generally do well, there's an understandable, and I guess somewhat innocent determination that if I, as I'm not, but if I were a young person and I got infected, I look around at my friends and say, you know, the overwhelming majority of them do just fine.

That's incorrect, because you are inadvertently and innocently propagating an outbreak that is killing some people.

So even though you think you're doing fine and you're not deliberately trying to hurt anybody, the fact that you've been careless and not looked at the guidelines, that you don't want to wear a mask, that you want to be in a crowd, you get infected.

So you've got to appreciate, and, and I know it's tough to get your feel about that, but you've got to appreciate that not only do you have an individual responsibility to yourself, you have a societal responsibility to help us all get this outbreak under control, because when it is under control, then you could start doing, with much less difficulty, the things that you really want to do.

But the nature of our country, of people having this independent feeling like, I don't want to do this because someone is telling me to do it, I guess that's understandable.

And that's what I think the complexity of all of this is founded in that, that inconsistency of what we're doing.

Let's talk about some of these images that we have seen—pictures of people around the country in large locations, at bars, on beaches without masks—many people seem to just have an aversion to wearing masks, even though you and other experts have said that this is key?

How do you get some skeptical people in this country to really understand the importance of wearing masks.

And how long do you think we're going to be wearing them for.

The number of people are getting hospitalized; the surges we're seeing, it's going to depend on us.

How long we're going to have to be doing this depends totally on us.

That is probably true, but a lot of people are going to die if you do that.

So I think as a society, the ingrained in our human spirit, we don't want to really see that because already more than 160,000 people in this country have died.

I think the other alternative is to contain it to the extent that we can, until we get the interventions, which are on their way, interventions like good treatments, interventions, hopefully, although there's no real guarantee, but hopefully that we will have a vaccine, one or more.

So the idea of, you know, if it's going to go on and on, let's just get it over with?

Russia has said this week that it has actually come out with a vaccine— that it's going to start actually inoculating people with this.

Do you think they've actually got this vaccine and how close are we in this country to really having something and how can we begin to dispense.

So if we wanted to take the chance of hurting a lot of people or giving them something that doesn't work, we could start doing this, you know, next week if we wanted to, but that's not the way it works.

I seriously doubt that they've done that, but that's what I think people need to understand when they hear announcements from the Chinese or from the Russians that we have a vaccine, we're giving a vaccine, and people say, why aren't the Americans doing that.

Well, because we have a way of doing things in this country that we care about safety, and we care about efficacy.

Once we do get what we think will be a viable vaccine, who will get it, how quickly will it be out there to the public, and will that put an end to what we're dealing with with COVID-19.

Vaccines against respiratory diseases like this generally, generally are not going to be as high.

I don't think that's going to be the case.

This time, we're going to add an additional layer of that to complement that.

We don't know what that's going to be, but likely if it follows the path of other prioritizations, it'll be things like having people who are healthcare providers and frontline emergency responders, because they everyday put themselves at risk, as well as individuals who are more vulnerable to serious consequences, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

There are things that are top of mind for people right now.

You have said that you would like to see kids going back to school because they'd benefit having this normal routine, but can we safely send kids back to school right now?

And the answer is as, as, as I think you've introduced it correctly, I believe as a default position, we should try as best as we possibly can to get the children back to school for all the reasons that you mentioned—the benefits for the children, the unintended negative consequences, if we don't—but there's a big however there and the however is or the, but is that we make sure that the primary consideration is the safety, the health, and the welfare of the children, as well as their teachers and the secondary effects of people they may come into contact with.

Everyone should be following the CDC guidelines, but looking at things that you can mitigate, the likelihood that they're going to get infected and to know what to do.

If in fact you get an infected child, but you can probably get children back to school by doing things like modifying school schedules, maybe some outdoor classes, wearing masks, important, wearing masks.

As I said before, and doing things like possibly more physical separation, hybrid schedules, a lot of things.

But finally, importantly, when you have a situation where you're in a red hot zone, where you have a lot of infection going on, I think you've really got to use judgment and carefully consider?

And I think many parents and teachers are going to vote with their feet on that.

So again, big country, it's not going to be unidimensional.

It's not going to be one size fits all, but we've gotta be sensitive to the safety and the welfare of the children and the teachers.

So many people are concerned we're in an election year?

Some people are going to be heading to the polls in the next few weeks?

For example, when you look at going to a grocery store now in many regions and counties and cities that are doing it correctly, they have “X”s every six or more feet.

Well, that's going to depend on two things?

That's going to depend on the success of vaccines.

And like I said, although I'm cautiously optimistic, I've been doing this long enough to never ever guarantee success when you're dealing with vaccines, but I think we would have a vaccine.

But a lot of it is going to be up to us as citizens to uniformly adhere to public health principles at the same time that we're fortunate enough to have good therapies and a vaccine that's effective.

Yeah, well, I just think it's a reflection of the divisiveness in the country

I mean, a lot of that was people who were homophobic and felt I was diverting resources to people that they didn't think should be part of society

It seems inconceivable, I mean, if you just think about it, take a deep breath and think about it, that when you're trying to promote public health principles to save people's lives and keep them healthy, that there's such divisiveness in the country that that's interpreted to be so far from your own way of thinking that you actually want to threaten the person

I mean, I just, it's tough for me to figure that out except to say, Boy, I hope we get past this divisiveness in our country and get more down to, even though people have their different thoughts and different ideologies, that we get it out of the realm of such intense divisiveness that you start doing things like threatening people

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