The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, lives here in D.C. While he focuses on the national response to the coronavirus pandemic, he’s also watching what happens in our region.
In an interview Monday, he told News4 what we should know as restrictions are slowly lifted in our region and gave a progress report on the local response to the pandemic.
“We’ve gotten hit, I would say pretty badly in a sense. But I think our city has done well. I think the mayor has done a good job,” he said.
Living in Northwest D.C., Fauci has seen his work on the White House Coronavirus Task Force be put into action in real time.
“When I go out in the evening to go out for my run at night, I see people with their dogs and they’re staying 40, 50 feet from each other and they all have masks. If they keep doing that, we’ll be ok,” he said.
For many people, the anxiety level is dropping as lockdown orders and restrictions on daily life are slowly lifted.
Fauci said it’s important to assess risks based on infections in your community, whether you’re considering traveling, going to dinner or attending a religious service.
He said he would feel comfortable dining outside. For now, he has just been ordering takeout, in part to keep the economy going.
Fauci said he would not feel comfortable going to a crowded church.
“I would want the pastor to do an outdoor service or do the service where the seating is separated, with the people sitting far away,” he said. “[…] I would be reluctant right now to do a lot of singing in the church.”
One person who doesn’t know they have the virus could infect an entire choir, and possibly parishioners too, by releasing respiratory droplets into the air.
What about getting on an airplane?
“Myself right now, with my age, I would be reluctant to go on a plane right now,” Fauci said. “But that doesn’t mean that someone who is healthy and 30 shouldn’t do that. That’s fine.”
Whether you’re in an area of low-density infections or high-density, active infections matters, he said.
We live in a big, international region with a lot of travel in and out. That puts us at higher risk for coronavirus infections.
The goal is to slow the spread of infection this summer, as scientists race to develop a vaccine. The hope is that they can do so by this winter.
“This will end. This will not be how we live our life. But we’re all in it together,” Fauci said.