Dr. Anthony Fauci Calls on Americans to Stop Going to Bars 'Right Now' as Coronavirus Cases Surge

"If we are going to contain this, we have got to contain it together," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said

Dr. Anthony Fauci. Photo: AL DRAGO/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Americans to stop going to bars, citing the activity as a dangerous one when it comes to spreading the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Speaking at the U.S. Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that congregating inside at bars "bad news."

"Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news," he said. "We really got to stop that right now."

Fauci cited the dramatic rise in positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as the driving reason behind avoiding gathering in groups to drink inside — and elsewhere during the hearing called out people who dismiss the fact that they could act as a transmitter of COVID-19 whether or not they ever feel ill.

"I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic that we all have to play a part in that," Fauci said.

"I think if you look at the visuals, what we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think they are invulnerable — and we know many young people are not, because they're getting [a] serious disease — that therefore their getting infected has nothing to do with anyone else, when in fact, it does."

He further explained: "Because if a person gets infected, they may not be symptomatic, but they could pass it to someone else, who passes it to someone else, who then makes someone's grandmother or grandfather, sick uncle, or leukemic child on chemotherapy get sick and die. We've got to get that message out: that we are all in this together. And if we are going to contain this, we have got to contain it together."

Particularly hard-hit states, like Texas, Arizona and Florida, have all moved to shut down bars as COVID-19 cases surge, and California is following suit in counties with high numbers of infections.

Fauci recognized that it is unrealistic to ask Americans to avoid social interaction altogether, but encouraged people to do so safely.

"You can have some social interaction," he said, adding that it is always better to be outdoors than indoors and to wear a mask when social distancing is impossible.

"We should not look at the public health endeavors as being an obstruction to opening up. We should look at it as a vehicle to opening up," he said. "Don't just make it all or none. We've got to be able to get people to get out and enjoy themselves within the safe guidelines that we have."

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"Make public health work for you as opposed to against you," he added.

Also during the hearing, Fauci warned that if people do not comply with safety measures — such as wearing a mask and social distancing — to curb the spread of the virus, the U.S. could soon see as many as 100,000 positive cases in a single day.

"We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned," he said, adding, "it could get very bad."

On Friday, the U.S. hit a new single-day record of infections with 45,498, far surpassing the previous record of 36,738 in April.

Bottom line: wearing a mask is a crucial step for every American to take in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, and in turn, saving lives, he said.

"There is no doubt that wearing masks protects you and gets you to be protected," Fauci said. "So it's people protecting each other."

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