President Donald Trump, right, listens as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is cautioning Americans on the importance of social distancing during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. On Sunday, he indicated that the American public is not doing enough to decrease the likelihood that more people become infected by the disease.
In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” he asserted that he would rather be seen as “overreacting” than to see more people become infected by the virus. “I would prefer as much [of a shut down] as we possibly could,” he said. “I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting.”
He continued, pointing out that many Americans are still engaging with large crowds of people despite the warnings from the experts. “I think Americans should be prepared that they’re gonna have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” he advised.
The director noted that many are still going to participate in events with large crowds of people. “You’re gonna have people who are going to go to restaurants anyway. But for the most part, and particularly, if I can say this, this is particularly appropriate and relevant for people at the higher risk. The elderly and those who have underlying conditions right now should really hunker down,” he said.
It appears that Fauci is correct in his assessment that a significant number of Americans are not taking social distancing seriously. CBS Boston reported that despite a ban on “gatherings of more than 250 people,” people were still going to crowded bars and restaurants. “For us, it’s not as much of a concern,” said one South Boston resident. “But yeah, some people out here might be underplaying [the coronavirus].”
This particular individual was referring to young, healthy people who still wanted to party it up. But, as other medical professionals have stated, Dr. Asaf Bitton told CBS Boston that the virus can still infect younger people. But even worse, he noted that “younger adults and children have parts to play in the transmission of this virus.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas also argued that residents needed to take social distancing more seriously. On Sunday morning, he posted a Twitter thread discussing a story that was told to him by an Uber driver who witnessed large crowds of residents at local bars. The driver stated that he received the usual level of business and that many passengers refused offers of hand sanitizer.
In a Twitter thread on Sunday morning, Mayor Lucas relayed a story from an Uber driver, who saw lines of patrons outside of Westport bars. The driver also said that business was “typical” for a Saturday night and that several riders refused offers of hand sanitizer. “There’s a problem here. Full bars and long, close lines outside don’t support social distancing. I’m all too familiar there is a balance we have to strike for sure, but it can’t fully ignore public health,” he wrote.
Many of Chicago’s residents are also ignoring the advice of experts on social distancing. Chicago Sun-Times reported that many Chicagoans turned out to participate in the St. Patrick’s day festivities on Saturday despite the fact that the annual parade had been canceled. Gov. J.B. Pritzker had issued a warning prior to the event that residents should avoid large crowds, but it appears that his pleas were not enough to persuade people to stay home. In an appearance on “Meet The Press,” the governor indicated that it might be necessary to close bars and restaurants until the threat subsides.
Numerous medical experts have urged the American public to practice social distancing in response to the spread of the coronavirus. This involves staying away from crowded areas and refraining from going to public spaces unless absolutely necessary. Many have heeded the advice, staying at home. Schools all across the nation have been closed to decrease the spread of the disease.
Americans have differed sharply in their opinions on the outbreak. Some have treated it as a mass campaign to scare the public. Others have gone into full panic mode. As I wrote previously, views on the coronavirus have fallen mostly on partisan lines. But it seems that the rational response is to avoid both extremes; it is not necessary to panic and start buying tons of toilet paper or gas masks, but it would be unwise to discount the virus completely.
It seems appropriate that we should practice a level of social distancing. No, we don’t need to batten down the hatches and hide out in our basements. But avoiding large crowds and public spaces as much as possible is sound advice.
Those who are younger are far less likely to die due to the illness, but this does not mean they cannot carry and transmit the virus to others who are more vulnerable. So, perhaps it makes sense to do our part to ensure that the outbreak does not do more damage. After all, the government can’t do it all, right?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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