Dr. Anthony Fauci voiced concerns about rushing to return to normalcy and warned that further mass outbreaks of COVID-19 are likely if Americans continue to prematurely put the pandemic in their past.
“People would like to say we’re done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us, and that’s really the problem,” Dr. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said on MSNBC late Tuesday.
Dr. Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was reacting to college football stadiums packed with unmasked fans Saturday.
Health officials say face masks are useful in stopping the spread of COVID-19, the contagious disease caused by the coronavirus, since the virus is transmitted in respiratory droplets expelled from the nose and mouth.
Masks are generally not needed outdoors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Dr. Fauci said they should be worn in close, congregate settings such as packed stadiums.
“There’s very good data in measuring the amount of aerosol and the amount of droplets that come out,” he said. Research shows “a lot” more droplets are expelled by shouting than talking, he said.
“So you would imagine that when you were in a sports arena where everyone is screaming and yelling, that if, in fact, anybody, and I would be very surprised if that were not the case, if anyone in that crowd is infected, they’re spreading the virus around,” Dr. Fauci told MSNBC host Joy Reid during “The ReidOut” program.
During the opening weekend of the college football season, tens of thousands of fans filled outdoor stadiums for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic started in early 2020.
Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, shared a video on social media from one of those games Tuesday showing massive, unmasked crowds, along with the caption: “Real America is done with #COVID19. God bless!”
Some other conservatives have been making similar remarks for months.
“All voters are over covid,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, said on Twitter in early July.
About 54% of the U.S. population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, making those people largely protected from being hospitalized or dying from it. It remains possible for them to become ill and spread the virus, however.
As of Tuesday, the seven-day moving average for the number of daily new positive COVID-19 cases reported by the CDC was 127,100. More than 40 million cases have been tallied nationwide since January 2020.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at email@example.com.
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