One of the most respected infectious disease experts in the world joined KSAL News Friday afternoon for a conversation.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health joined in a conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic, returning to school in Salina, how to stay safe in school, and how best to combat the virus.
Fauci, who has advised six U.S. Presidents on global health issues, told KSAL News that while parts of our country have handled things well, others have not. He said right now there are issues in multiple areas, including the Midwest.
Dr. Fauci said what we are currently experiencing is still the first wave of COVID-19.
Salina is a community of a little over 45,000, in the middle of Kansas. It is a regional hub for shopping and business, at the intersection of two interstates. The number of COVID-19 cases has not steadied out yet. High school sports practices begin on Monday. Teachers return to school Wednesday. Students return in about 3 weeks. Is it safe for sports, and safe to go back to school right now? Fauci said there is no good general answer to guide all districts, but rather districts need to rely on guidance from local health professional. As a fundamental principle he believes we need to try and get kids back to school, but as safe as possible.
Dr. Fauci said the most common way the virus would spread in a school is through the air, rather that via multiple use surfaces like desks and doorknobs.
Dr. Fauci said masks should be used in schools, and everywhere else where there cannot be consistent social distancing. He said the science is very clear…masks work at stopping the spread of the virus.
Dr Fauci spoke about the topic of “herd immunity”, or allowing infection in the community so as to development mass immunity. Put simply, he said it has “failed miserably” in the two places where it has been tried.
Dr. Fauci affirmed that COVID-19 is a very contagious and serious disease, something more dangerous than the flu. He said while it’s true younger people tend to have less serious effects, there are many people who have recovered yet still have lingering symptoms.
Dr. Fauci said the best way to avoid COVID-19 is via vaccine, which is currently under development. He is “cautiously optimistic” that is we get into 2021 there will be a successful vaccine available. He added, though, there are no guarantees on a vaccine.
The U.S. is on the verge of five-million coronavirus infections. Based on recent averages, the nation will likely hit the grim milestone this weekend. Johns Hopkins data shows more than 160-thousand Americans have died from COVID-19-related complications. The U.S. leads the world in both infections, and cases.
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Fauci Entire Interview: