As one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts for more than 30 years, Dr. Anthony Fauci knows more than most about how viruses spread. But the severity of the novel coronavirus has thrown even him for a loop, he freely admits; for the last six months, Fauci and scientists worldwide have been learning along with the rest of us, week by week. Thankfully, there’s now enough clear information about how we can protect ourselves against COVID-19. Here is what Fauci personally recommends.
Take one thing off your agenda for the immediate future: Going to bars, Fauci says. “Bars: really not good, really not good,” he told a Senate committee hearing last month. “We really have got to stop that.” In a July 1 NPR interview, Fauci said that “congregating in bars, congregating in crowds, people getting together in a celebratory way without wearing masks” has driven this summer’s surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Don’t Get On a Plane
Fauci has repeatedly said he wouldn’t take an airplane right now, most recently in a MarketWatch interview on July 27. “I am in a risk category. I don’t like to admit it, but I’m 79 years old,” he said. “I don’t fancy seeing myself getting infected, which is a risk when you’re getting on a plane, particularly with the amount of infection that’s going on right now.”
Don’t Dine Indoors
“I am not going to restaurants right now,” Fauci told MarketWatch. “Indoors is much worse than outdoors. If you’re going to go to a restaurant, try as best as you can to have outdoor seating that is properly spaced between the tables.”
Wear a Mask
“The message should be, ‘Wear a mask, period,'” Fauci said on July 7. Studies indicate it can reduce the risk of infection anywhere from 50 to 80%, he told MarketWatch.
Wash Your Hands
Back in April, Fauci advocated “absolute compulsive hand-washing” to slow the spread of coronavirus. On the PBS NewsHour later that month, he said it was the absolute best way to avoid getting COVID-19. Do it frequently and thoroughly—with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Maintain Social Distancing
In a speech on July 21, Fauci reiterated that it’s important to stay more than six feet away from other people when in public. Coronavirus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets, which can travel about six feet before dropping to the ground.
Exercise, But Not Inside a Gym
“I wouldn’t go to a gym,” Fauci told the Washington Post on July 3. “I need to be so careful. I don’t want to take a chance.” Instead, he exercises outdoors. A former runner, he now power-walks at least three-and-a-half miles per day, he told MarketWatch.
Have a Plan for Resuming School
“As a general principle, we should try as best as possible to keep children in school,” Fauci said on July 14. But he doesn’t believe there shouldn’t be a blanket reopening—the new should be strategic and customized to the severity of the pandemic in each locality. The priority should be “safety and welfare of the children, and the safety and welfare of teachers,” he said.
Fauci has repeatedly advised us to avoid large gatherings. “Look at some of the film clips that you’ve seen of people congregating often without masks, of being in crowds and … not paying attention to the guidelines that we very carefully put out,” he said. “We’re going to continue to be in a lot of trouble, and there’s going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop.”
Don’t Shake Hands
Early in the pandemic, Fauci attracted headlines for declaring that the handshake is dead — it’s all too easy to pass germs from hand to hand, then to face or mouth, resulting in infection. On July 3, Fauci said “I think it’s going to be a while” before he feels comfortable shaking hands or giving a casual hug. “The infection rate will have to be extremely low or nonexistent, or we have to have a vaccine. Right now, I don’t even think about doing it.”
Fauci told the Washington Post that he and his wife will entertain at home, but they’ll only invite two people at a time, and only outdoors. “On the rare occasion when we have people over, we have them out on the deck, six feet apart,” he said. “We wear masks, unless we are eating. We don’t share anything. There are no common bowls.” If the weather won’t permit them to socialize outside, they cancel.
“If you want to pick three or four or five very simple tools that could have a major impact on turning around the outbreak, wearing a mask is definitely one of them, as is physical distancing, as is avoiding crowds, as is closing bars, as is washing your hands,” said Fauci on July 27. “I’m pleading with people to consider doing this consistently because if half of people don’t do it, it kind of negates the overall purpose.”
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 37 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.