Dr. Fauci Just Issued This COVID Surge Update
He hopes people take masking seriously.
In a new interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the renowned infectious disease expert, has sounded off about a concerning surge in COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations have risen by approximately 18 to 19%, signaling a worrying late summer and fall resurgence of the virus. While Dr. Fauci acknowledges to CNN's Michael Smerconish the unpredictability of the virus, he expresses concerns that people may not follow recommended safety measures. He emphasizes the importance of mask-wearing, clarifying that studies support their effectiveness at the individual level. However, he also underscores that mandates from federal authorities are unlikely, leaving the responsibility to local institutions and individuals to evaluate their own risks and protect the vulnerable. Read on to see what he says about the "surge of cases" and how to stay safe.
"We're starting to see a surge of cases, about an 18 or 19% increase in hospitalizations, certainly going in the wrong direction, what looks like a late summer and into the fall surge," Dr. Fauci told Smerconish. "How bad it's going to get? We don't know. As you know, this is a very unpredictable virus, it has shown us that over the last three and a half years."
"I am concerned that people will not abide by recommendations—and we're not talking about mandates or forcing anybody, but when you have a situation where the volume of cases in society gets to a reasonably high level, particularly the vulnerable, those who are elderly and those with underlying conditions are going to be more susceptible and vulnerable if they do get infected to get severe disease leading to hospitalization, we know that that's a fact. We've seen that," Dr. Fauci said.
"I would hope that if in fact we get to the point where the volume of cases is such, and organizations like the CDC recommend—the CDC doesn't mandate anything, I mean recommends—that people wear masks, I would hope that they abide by the recommendation and take into account the risk to themselves and to their families. And again, we're not talking about forcing anybody to do anything."
Dr. Fauci was asked about a recent study that said masks don't work against COVID. "That's not so," said Dr. Fauci. "When you're talking about at the population level that the data are less strong than knowing that if you look on a situation as an individual protecting themselves or protecting them from spreading it, there's no doubt that masks work. Different studies give different percentages of the advantages of wearing it, but there's no doubt that the weight of the studies, and there have been many studies, indicate the benefit of wearing masks."
Smerconish referred to "the most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illness," in which the author said, "There is just no evidence that masks make any difference. How do we get beyond that finding of that particular review?" Dr. Fauci answered: "There are other studies that show at an individual level for individual when you're talking about the effect on the epidemic or the pandemic as a whole, the data are less strong. But when you talk about as an individual basis of someone protecting themselves or protecting themselves from spreading it to others, there's no doubt that there are many studies that show that there is an advantage. …We're talking about an individual's effect on their own safety. That's a bit different than the broad population level."
"If it comes to it, we hope it doesn't, but if it comes to it, might a better approach, say, let's protect the most vulnerable and allow others to lead their normal lives," suggested Smerconish. "Well, yeah, I mean, mandating, I don't think is going to happen," said Fauci. "There may be local mandates, and people keep thinking that the federal government is going to mandate that you wear a mask. That's not going to happen. But there may be individual institutions, organizations that are going to say, if you want to come to work, you've got to wear a mask. There's nothing that the federal government can do about that if people want to do it locally," said Fauci.
"I think people need to realize it is extremely unlikely that you're going to see a mandate, for example, from the CDC, which has no authority to mandate anything with regard to masks. They can only recommend it. So, people essentially, for the most part, can do what they want to do based on their own evaluation of their own risk," said Fauci.
Dr. Fauci was asked about the closing of schools during the pandemic and the negative impact that has on development and mental health—which led to his commenting on shutdowns. "Certainly when we were dealing with the tsunami that we saw earlier on in the pandemic, when things had to be shut down because we were having hospitals that were overcrowded and we were having freezer trucks in front of hospitals in New York and other cities because we had no place to put the bodies, that was a very, very dramatic situation that needed something immediately to stop it," said Fauci.
"The question is, how long should a shutdown have been? I think that there are varying degrees of differences in that, and I agree that if you look back at the things that I've said back then, we should try as best as possible to keep the schools open and the schools that are closed to get them open safely by any of the number of means, including increasing the ventilation in schools, making sure that the people around the children are properly vaccinated. So I agree. I mean, there was a point where we had a shut down, but the duration of the shutdown is something that is questionable, and I think people rather appropriately should be examining of whether or not things should have been shut down for so long. But the initial shutting down was something that really had to have been done because we were in desperate situations."