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Fauci: Coronavirus spreads with ‘striking’ efficiency, creates ‘perfect storm’

  • Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the “striking” transmission efficiency of the coronavirus has created the “perfect storm.”
  • “Not to be hyperbolic about it — it really is the perfect storm and [an] infectious disease and public health person’s worst nightmare,” Fauci said at an event hosted by the news website The Hill.
  • Some states and the US as a whole are seeing record-high daily surges in confirmed coronavirus cases as the country once again grapples with a response to COVID-19 outbreaks following an unprecedented shutdown a few months ago.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci gave a blunt assessment of how the United States is handling the coronavirus pandemic compared to other countries.

Some cities, he said, were following the guidelines and controlling their outbreaks. “But as a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great,” Fauci told the FiveThirtyEight podcast. “I mean, we’re just not.”

Part of that has to do with how states, cities, and their populations have responded to the pandemic, he said, whether that was opening up too quickly or ignoring social distancing guidelines and calls to wear masks.

In another interview, Fauci also discussed the particular conditions of the virus in this pandemic, which have left states struggling to respond.

“Not to be hyperbolic about it — it really is the perfect storm and [an] infectious disease and public health person’s worst nightmare,” Fauci said at an event hosted by the news website The Hill, citing a report by CNN.

“It’s a spectacularly transmissible virus. The efficiency with which this transmits is really striking.”

Health experts have urged people to socially distance and wear masks or cloth face coverings in order to mitigate the spread of the virus, though the recommendations have not been taken to heart by some as people who continue to fight the health safety precautions.

Federal social distancing guidelines expired at the end of April, and states — which had largely imposed “stay-at-home” orders and shuttered most businesses — began to reopen their economies. However, some states lacked a comprehensive testing and contact tracing infrastructure, a system designed to suppress new infections rather than simply mitigating the spread.

Now, some states — namely Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas — and the US as a whole are seeing record-high daily increases in confirmed cases as the country once again grapples with coronavirus outbreaks.

“Now what we need to do in this country is to successfully make that transition from baseline control to safely be reopening the country, and following the guidelines are going to be critical,” Fauci said.

“And I think what we’ve seen unfortunately, is that in some of the Southern states, the states have not really followed those guidelines in some respects, and jumped over the benchmarks, and the points that needed to be checkpoints,” he said. “We’ve got to do better.”

As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a health expert on the White House coronavirus task force, Americans have looked to Fauci for a sense of guidance and knowledge amid the constantly developing pandemic.

In May, Fauci said he sets an example for Americans of what “you should be doing” by wearing a mask, a practice encouraged by health experts to lower one’s risk of coronavirus infection by containing an individual’s respiratory droplets which may carry viral particles.

However, President Donald Trump, whose remarks about the coronavirus are often at odds with Fauci and other health experts, doesn’t take the same solace in Fauci’s health recommendations and infectious disease expertise as some Americans do.

“Dr. Fauci, he’s a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” Trump said in an interview Thursday with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

During the interview, the president went on to say he has “no problem” with masks.

“I think it’s fine to wear a mask if it makes you feel comfortable,” Trump said, adding that he will wear one during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “You’re in a hospital setting. I think it’s a very appropriate thing. I have no problem with a mask.”

However, Trump has repeatedly refused to wear a mask during events in and outside of the White House, as well as during times when he is unable to socially distance.

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