WATCH: Kansas one-on-one with Dr. Anthony Fauci
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One of the most recognizable names in the response to COVID-19 did a one-on-one interview with WIBW on Friday.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, spoke with WIBW’s Melissa Brunner.
In the interview, Dr. Fauci said it’s important for states to be cautious when it comes to reopening and minimizing restrictions. Asked if counties with few or no cases can do away guidelines like social distancing and wearing face mask, Dr. Fauci said, “absolutely not.”
“That’s how you get fooled. When there is virus around or when it looks like things are going well, once you let your guard up from those fundamental things, that’s when you get in trouble,” Dr. Fauci said. “We saw that in Florida. We saw that in Arizona. We saw that in Texas. And we saw that in California. That doesn’t mean you have to completely disrupt your life. You can do things related to employment. You can enjoy the outdoors. You can do a lot of things. This is a favorable season for that. But to say because you don’t have any - what you think are any - cases now, that you should just say well we’re going to forget about the public health measures. That’s exactly what happened in the states and the cities that got into trouble.”
Dr. Fauci said it’s important for the nation as a whole to work together to get the virus under control. He listed six basic public health practices: universal wearing of masks indoor and outdoor; avoiding crowds; keeping physical distance 6 feet or more; outdoors always better than indoors; hand hygiene; and staying out of bars, calling them “a hotbed of acquisition and transmission.”
Dr. Fauci also said he is optimistic but doesn’t guarantee that health experts will come up with a vaccine by the end of the year. He said until a vaccine is in circulation, the public health practices must continue.
“I don’t think masks are here to stay forever. We need to get the virus down to such a low level that the risk of infecting people is vanishing and small,” Dr. Fauci said. “Everybody needs to understand that getting this virus under control, getting it out of the pandemic stage, getting it to such a low level that we can really begin to go back to some form of normalcy, is going to require everyone pulling together - the public health measures, super imposed upon a vaccine. But you should never abandon public health measures until it’s very clear that you have a complete control over the outbreak, and we are not there yet.”
When it comes to schools reopening, he said we need to get kids back into school, but reopenings will vary, depending on a the level that COVID-19 may be spread in a district’s community.
“There’s going to be some places where you can open up and there’s going to be no to little risk. There’s going to be other places where you’re going to need modification, perhaps a hybrid approach, a pod online, physical distancing, (and) masks. “And there may be some places where the level of virus is so high where you might want to think twice before you send your kids back to school,” Dr. Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci was appointed to the White House Coronavirus Task Force by President Donald Trump.
He’s been an advocate for social distancing efforts and mask use in the nation.
Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.