ATLANTA — Channel 2 Anchor Jovita Moore had the opportunity to speak exclusively with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man leading the country’s task force fighting the coronavirus, on Friday.
Fauci said we can all help end the pandemic, if we all follow the guidelines.
"So here we are in the middle of June. This pandemic is not yet over, right?" Moore asked Fauci.
"That is correct, it is not. There is still active infection," Fauci said. "All you need to do is look at the daily permutations of how many infections there are."
Fauci said it's clear the deaths and hospitalizations are declining, but he hoped to see a steady decline in infections as well.
“Obviously, when you have blips that come up, you have to handle them in a way to prevent them from becoming full surges,” Fauci said.
Moore asked Fauci what his concerns are about a city like Atlanta as the governor lifts pretty much all of the remaining restrictions that had been in place.
"What are your concerns now as folks move into summer?" Moore asked.
Fauci said his main concern is that people don’t become too cavalier and throw all caution to the wind.
"We at the White House and at the Task Force have put together a group of recommendations of guidelines that are measured," Fauci said. "They have what are called benchmarks. You go from one, to the next, to the next. And that’s what we see many of the cities are doing, and doing it appropriately. The one thing that you really need to remember is that, don’t get in your mind that it’s an all or none phenomenon."
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Fauci said communities can do a lot of important things to reopen the city and still do it while practicing social distancing.
"When you cannot maintain that physical distance, by all means, wear a mask and keep it on," Fauci said.
The University of Washington has predicted a second wave of coronavirus in mid-September in several states, including Georgia.
But Fauci said that doesn't have to happen.
"It is not inevitable that we will have a second wave in the fall or winter," Fauci said
Fauci said the virus will not just disappear, and infections will likely go up, but the critical issue is how you respond to new cases, starting now.
“Are we now, in June, July, August, September-- are we putting into place the manpower, the health system, the testing, to be able to very effectively do identification, isolation and contact tracing?” Fauci said. “If we do that successfully, we don’t have to accept an inevitability of a second wave.”
Moore also talked to Fauci about whether or not he thinks schools should be allowed to reopen in Georgia in the fall.
Fauci said you have to make that judgement call depending on the status of the infection in your particular area.
"You know the two extremes are opening completely or closing it completely," Fauci said. "But there's a lot of leeway in there, There are a number of creative ways that you can address that by mitigating the chance (of infection.)"
Fauci suggested manipulating schedules so students are only in class every other day or morning and afternoon. He also suggested allowing more vulnerable kids to go to classes online.
"Or you can just keep the seating in a way where you’re at best, enough feet apart that you go by the guidelines," Fauci said. "And wear a mask. The teacher, the students."
Moore asked Fauci how fast he thinks we could see a vaccine.
"I think it’s certainly realistic that we will know if a vaccine works by the end of the year. Because we started very very quickly," Fauci said. "Literally, within days of determining what the sequence of the virus was. We are fully enrolled in a phase 1 trial of safety."
Fauci said that currently, we are in a phase 2 trial, but some time in the first few weeks of July, a very large phase 3 trial of 300,000 people will start. Several other possible vaccines will be tested in the months after that.
“We feel fairly confident that if all goes well, we’ll at least have an answer by the end of this year, the very beginning of 2021, as to whether the vaccine works or not,” Fauci said. “But the proof of the pudding is in the trial. You never know until you complete the trial.”
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