Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells Yahoo News National Correspondent Alexander Nazaryan that he is concerned that the widespread George Floyd protests could lead to a rise in coronavirus cases. Fauci also explains the possible risks of reopening without the proper infrastructure in place.
ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: Do you think we’ll see a spike from the protests last week?
ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, I’m concerned. I am. I hope we don’t, but the thing that makes me concerned is, A, the dynamics of it. You’re having crowds, we recommend not to go in crowds. Physical distancing is impossible.
We say if you’re going to do that, which you shouldn’t, you should wear a mask. And yet you see when people get animated, they get involved in the demonstration. They start chanting and shouting and screaming. Very often they take their mask off. In fact, if you look at the TV coverage of that, they do that.
The other thing that’s of concern was the report in our city that the DC National Guard, several of them actually tested positive, and they were right there in that crowd. So I am concerned that it is a considerable risk both to [? due ?] the physical proximity of a demonstration as well as the fact that people sometimes don’t wear masks.
ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: People are traveling more. We just had these protests. Are we about to see– I don’t even want to say a second spike because that’s going to come in the late fall. I mean, are we going to see some resurgence? What’s going to happen?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well, again, a good question that’s worth addressing. So whenever you open up and you have still some infection– I mean, if you have zero infection, you don’t have to worry about it, but there’s no zero infection. So as long as you have some level of infection, hopefully you will proceed to opening according to the guideline where the infections go down, they stay down. You go to the next phase and the next phase.
But even with that, there’s some infection around, which means that as you try to open up, it is– you know, it is not surprising that you are going to see little blips of infection. The real critical issue is how you address those. If you have in place the manpower, the health system, the testing capability to identify, to isolate, and to contact trace, it is not inevitable that you’re going to have a resurgence.
In other words, you may be able to tiptoe into normality, and every time you get these blips, you’re able to suppress them. If you don’t implement that kind of containment, then it is quite conceivable that you will see a rebound.