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With coronavirus out of control across the country—and hospitals in some states overflowing—Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert and member of the coronavirus task force, is here with a message to anyone who thinks the virus is no big deal: You're wrong, and the number of your dead fellow Americans proves it. In an interview with the USA TODAY Editorial Board, Fauci spoke more about how those in denial are also in danger. Read on to hear more, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Dr. Fauci Has This Urgent Message for COVID Deniers
Dr. Fauci was asked by the Board about the state-by-state restrictions being implemented. Some are instituting curfews; other stay-at-home advisories. The national government is not tying them together. Earlier this week, Fauci argued for a more "unified approach."
"There are obviously going to be some differences, because we have such a large, diverse country," Fauci said. "But the differences shouldn't be fundamental. There should be really some common denominators that everyone follows. We've got to say, 'OK, folks, enough is enough with this political divisiveness, with this claiming that people are making things up. Get rid of these ridiculous conspiracy theories and realize this is a public health crisis.' … We don't want to shut down as a nation because of the psychological and economic consequences of that. But we at least have got to be consistent in doing some fundamental things, so that's what concerns me. We're in a vulnerable position."
Asked the Board: "How vulnerable?"
"The data speak for themselves," he said. "We have over 11 million infections. We have (more than) 250,000 deaths. When you look at the map, where the colors that get darker and redder show that there's increased activity, it's almost the entire country. Things are going in the wrong direction in an arena of increased risk, namely the cooler and colder weather. I mean, let's go, folks. What about that don't you understand?"
Dr. Fauci Has This Message for the Skeptics
Dr. Fauci was asked if the skeptics could be reached. On every story written about the rise in cases or record deaths, at least one commenter—or maybe hundreds—will post that it's "fake news." "It's very frustrating and, in many respects, it is beyond frustrating because as a person of science, you're guided by the data. Sometimes the data are not clear. Sometimes you get studies that vary a bit and confuse people. But sometimes data are really solid, and you can't run away from data that's solid."
Those who say it's no worse that the flu baffle him, in particular. "You have (over 250,000 coronavirus) deaths, 11 million infections and 70,000 people in the hospital. Flu doesn't even come close," he said. "When you ask me about frustration, which borders on pain, it's that either people don't want to look at the data or they look at the data and they say it's fake. No, it isn't fake. … This is a global issue. I tell the people who deny or think that this is nothing, do you mean that every single country in Europe is doing the same thing, is making things up? They're not. I mean, it's so obvious."
How to Survive the Pandemic—and Stop Infections From Spreading
COVID-19 is real. We mean, it's so obvious. No matter where you live, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear your face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, stay outdoors more than indoors, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.