As coronavirus cases—and deaths—rise in certain states, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, spoke during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute panel on global pandemics yesterday. Read on to heed his warnings, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
“The thing that has puzzled me, when we began to fully appreciate the scope of the clinical spectrum and to this day continues to puzzle me as much, is that of all the viral diseases that I’ve had to deal with over the last few decades of emerging infections, I’ve never seen anything with a range that goes from 40 to 45% of the people have no symptoms at all to the range of people who have mild, maybe a day or two feeling poorly,” he said. “Those who are in bed for weeks at a time. And now we’re starting to see post-viral clearance syndrome. What people are referring to as the long haulers who wind up having symptomatology for weeks at a time, and to those who require hospitalization to those who require intensive care, intubation ventilation, and [we’re seeing] death. It’s just completely unique to see that degree of variability of a single microbe, which means there are things that are determining that, that we still at this point don’t understand.”
The strangeness of the virus—that so many people can be asymptomatic—is “one of the things that creates confusion is society of why often we can’t get young people to appreciate the seriousness of this, because it turns out that most of the time, not all the time by any means, that a person can get affected and have absolutely no symptoms. So how do you convince them that it is really important that you don’t get infected? Because if you do, you could probably, and likely, be spreading the infection inadvertently. And yet one of the things we’re dealing with in this country is a real lack of understanding of the importance of everybody trying to prevent getting infected rather than inadvertently. And in some cases, innocently, propagating the outbreak and infecting someone who you had no intention at all of infecting.”
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“Of getting infected versus being free of infection—look at the types of employment and jobs that as a group, as a demographic group, Latinx have. It puts them much more in contact in a person to person way with the online front line jobs, manual jobs in which they’re interacting. And don’t have the capability of doing what we’re doing right now of essentially doing something in a protected environment of a Zoom. They are out there, they’re in the trenches, they’re interacting. And if you look at the rate of infection is higher, I don’t think that has anything to do with epigenetics or anything like that—even though…that’s a possibility.”
“When you look at the hospitalizations, you then look at the kind of social determinants of health, the things that lead to a greater incidence of diabetes, a greater incidence of obesity, a greater incidence of hypertension. Those are the things that likely relate to circumstances in which they find themselves in that may have a genetic component, but more likely a due to the availability of the kinds of diets that would be healthy diets. We see that both with the African-American population and we see that with the Latinx population. So I refer to it as an unfortunate double whammy in the first place, you know, positioned through no fault of their own, to be more vulnerable, to actually acquiring the infection once they get it.”
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask up, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, make sure your restaurant (if you must go to one) follows safety protocols, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.