As the US sees a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reiterated the importance of wearing a mask, avoiding crowds and practicing social distancing to help curb the spread of the virus. Fauci spoke with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Thursday livestream about the importance of health and safety measures during the .
"We should be looking at public health measures as a vehicle or a gateway to opening the country again," Fauci said. "Not as the obstacle. If we do it in a measured way, I strongly believe we can turn this around in the southern states that are getting hit right now, and we can prevent it from happening in states that are still at that point of trying to open up."
Fauci compared the US's response to that of European countries, which sawafter shutting down almost fully across the board. He described the US as a "mixed bag," with some areas doing better than others, but pointed to the danger in some places that "jump over steps" in their .
"There really is no reason why we're having 40, 50, 60 thousand [cases], other than the fact that we're not doing something correctly," he said.
The infectious-diseases expert urged younger people in particular, who may erroneously feel invincible against coronavirus, to take greater personal responsibility in helping to curb its spread. Statistics have shown, and those people can unknowingly pass the virus onto others.
"You can't think of yourself in a vacuum," he said. "If you get infected, you can innocently infect someone else, who might then infect someone else."
When it comes to, Fauci said the default should be try to get kids back in the classroom, wherever possible. Otherwise, there could be negative consequences for kids who stay home all day, as well as parents who may have to adjust their work schedules accordingly. Of course, areas with high infection rates should consider keeping schools closed or in a way that keeps students safe, he said. That could include holding more classes outside, Fauci noted.
Over the next four to five months, Fauci said, we'll seegoing into clinical trial. If all goes well, we could know by late fall whether there are candidates that are truly safe and effective. By the end of this year or early next, we may then have a vaccine candidate that's ready for distribution.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Fauci said.
Facebook, which has seen a surge in users amid the coronavirus pandemic as people look for ways to stay in touch digitally, has been ramping up its crackdown on COVID-19 misinformation. In March, it built an information center at the top of news feed to direct users to "authoritative information" about the virus. The social network said Wednesday it's launching a section in its COVID-19 Information Center called Facts about COVID-19, which will debunk , such as that . Starting this week, Facebook is also expanding to more countries. The company began showing these alerts on US users' Facebook and Instagram feeds earlier this month.
"We need to take this a lot more seriously," Zuckerberg said in the livestream. "Our response needs to be guided by science."
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