THE WHITE HOUSE (Gray DC) - Dr. Anthony Fauci is now a familiar face to Americans as he gives daily updates at the White House. Gray Television Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro talked to him Tuesday about what communities across the country are facing.
Here is a transcript of their interview:
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: Dr. Fauci, where is the next hot zone for coronavirus?
DR. FAUCI: It’s very difficult to tell. It depends on the degree to which certain regions, state, cities adhere to the mitigation. I think that, for the most part, the United States is doing very well. Obviously the things that you’re concerned about is those areas where you have big cities. Every state has a metropolis in it, some much larger than others. So any situation where you have a concentration of people, the epitome of that is what we’re seeing in New York, in New Orleans, in Detroit. Hopefully we would not see that kind of explosive infection that we did see unfortunately in New York and to some extent in New Orleans, Detroit and other places, but you have to be careful with cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. California and Washington state have actually done quite well in their mitigation to prevent that explosion of cases. But you have to be prepared that any particular location, city, town, or what have you is potentially a hotspot. And that’s the reason why you can’t relax your mitigation regardless of where you are. If you look at the map of the United States, there are cases all over the place, each of which is a little bit of an ember that can turn into a fire, and that’s what you have to worry about.
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: New data shows African Americans are dying of coronavirus at higher rates. What can you tell us?
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, unfortunately that’s not surprising and the reason is there is a health disparity as we call it, that African Americans disproportionately suffer from diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even some cancers like prostate cancer in African American men. One of the problems is that many of these conditions are the underlying conditions, which no matter what your race or ethnicity gives you a greater chance of getting a complication with coronavirus disease. So if you’re a white person like me and you have hypertension, you’re at high risk, but the chances of my having hypertension or diabetes is much less than the general African American population. And that’s the reason why they’re suffering disproportionately. They have the underlying conditions that seem to make coronavirus worse. In addition, often their access to good healthcare is not as good as the general population.
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: Factory workers say their employers won’t close or distance them, so what should they do?
DR. FAUCI: Well, it depends on what do you mean? I mean factory work is pretty generic determination.
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: We have some folks in areas where we own TV stations that have reported this to us.
DR. FAUCI: Yeah, see that’s unfortunate. We’ve got to be able to make sure that people understand the importance of social distancing. If you are in a critical infrastructure job, there are things that you can do. You heard us talk about it last week. The idea of wearing a face covering of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a classical mass because you don’t want to take away from the masks that the healthcare workers need. But if you’re in a situation where it is difficult to stay six feet away or in a situation less than 10 people, which is what the guidelines say, then there are certain things that you could do and a mask is one of them. Also, you could stagger shifts, number factories of doing that instead of having just the daytime shift. Maybe go around the clock and have half the people come in in one shift and half the people come in the other to keep the distancing physically from each other. But I’m not a factory manager, but I’m just thinking of that as a possibility.
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: What needs to happen before states can lift their stay at home orders?
DR. FAUCI: Well, I think it has to be gradual. That’s the first thing. I don’t think it’s a switch that goes on and off, on, off and you just got to determine the situation that you’re in. But one of the critical issues that you have to see is a clear cut indication that we’re turning the corner and the cases are coming down. We saw that in China after much suffering. We’re starting to see that a bit in Italy now and even in New York there are some very interesting and I think cautiously optimistic signs that the number of cases are starting to plateau and come down. Once they get over that hump and come down, they usually come down in a pretty steep way. When you start seeing that, then you can start thinking about the possibility of getting back to those first steps towards normal.
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: As scientists work on a vaccine that could take a few years, so explain how these therapies might be able to help in the mean time.
DR. FAUCI: Well, therapies are obviously different than vaccine. Vaccine prevents infection, therapies treat infection or in some cases can prevent infection. There are a number of clinical trials that are going on right now to determine if any of a number of a half a dozen to even more therapies are going to be safe and effective. It takes a while to prove that, but we’re going as quickly as we possibly can on these clinical trials and hopefully by the time we get to what might be the second cycle next fall, we’ll have a few therapies that actually have proven to work.
JACQUELINE POLICASTRO: Dr. Fauci, thanks very much for your time. Stay well.
DR. FAUCI: Good to be with you. My pleasure.