Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci had nothing but praise for New York’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s plan going forward during a surprise virtual appearance on Monday morning.
Fauci was a special guest speaker during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Dec. 7 in Manhattan, where he sounded off on the state’s progress and offered his advice for handling the pandemic, which he says will peak in mid-to-late January.
“(New York’s plan) seems really sound,” said Fauci, appearing by video from Washington, DC. “There’s a lot of backup contingencies which I like … New York isn’t going to get caught short-handed on this, that I’m certain of.
“The problem is that you’re going to see the full brunt of the travel and family gatherings with friends from Thanksgiving, which is going to come right up against the beginning of Christmas and Hannukah, so you might not see the full results until about two and a half weeks from the time of the event.”
Fauci praised Cuomo’s mandate that only permits 10 people to gather indoors at any one time, while the governor noted that approximately 70 percent of the recent COVID-19 spread in New York has been “living room spread,” due to recent gatherings.
“I think it’s a sound rule, and even 10 may be a bit too many people,” Fauci said. “It’s not just the number, but the people who might be coming in from out of town. That’s more risky than the actual number."
During the briefing, Fauci noted that bars and restaurants pose a much larger risk to the public attempting to avoid contracting COVID-19.
“If you look at the influenza model, kids are in school, get infected, then infect parents and relatives - but we’re not finding that with the coronavirus,” he said. “I think the real positive spinoff of this is the realization that schools appear to be a place where the positives are low, just like you’re seeing in New York across the whole state.”
“Close the bars and keep the schools open as long as you subsidize and help the restaurant and bar owners so they don’t go down and crash due to the economic strain.”
A Brooklyn native, Fauci said that he’s not surprised to see that New York had the fourth-lowest positive infection rate after becoming the first hotspot for the virus in the country. Only Vermont, Hawaii, and Maine have lower rates, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
“Being a New Yorker, it doesn’t surprise me,” he said of the progress. “You guys, as we’ve discussed, you got his with a sucker punch right from the beginning when the cases came in from Europe and that Northeast corridor, particularly New York State and the metro area got hit badly, but you’ve recovered from that.
“New York did the appropriate thing and got the baseline level very low, though it was painful to see from a distance,” Fauci continued. “The state rebounded and rebounded in a way that you kept the test positivity low. You did the things that needed to be done.
Fauci added: “I’ve been following from Washington, and when it looked like things were getting out of hand, you tightened the rope, and when things were better, you eased up.”
Hours after guest-starring during Cuomo’s briefing, Fauci received additional support in a Tweet from President-elect Joe Biden.
“Dr. Fauci isn't just one of our foremost experts on combating viruses — he is a good man and a tireless public servant,” he posted. “He has served six presidents and led us through some of our toughest challenges.
“Our administration, and our country, will be stronger because of his guidance.”
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