Fauci Says His Sense on Coronavirus Scope Is ‘Not Encouraging’

“Social distancing” will become more prevalent in the U.S. over the next three months as the nation attempts to tamp down the spread of the new coronavirus, Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

“We’re getting a better sense as the days go by” of the scope of the outbreak in the U.S., Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Unfortunately, that better sense is not encouraging, because we’re seeing community spread.”

“If you’re a vulnerable person, take it seriously, because particularly when you have community spread, you may not know at any given time that there are people who are infected,” Fauci said of the idea of social distancing, or actions that include avoiding large gatherings. “It’s common-sense stuff.”

The “draconian” quarantine measures taken by China, while they’ve worked to prevent a broader advance of the disease beyond Wuhan province, are “something we never would be able to do” in the U.S., he added. Italy also imposed travel restrictions early Sunday.

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“Even though there are a lot of things that have unintended negative consequences of that, I think it did help dampen what would have been” an even worse outbreak, Fauci said of China. “Wuhan was terrible. But I think they prevented a broader spread.”

The veteran infectious disease specialist spoke as the Trump administration remains under fire in some quarters for its response to the fast-spreading virus.

President Donald Trump said Sunday the White House has “a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan” to combat Covid-19. The president is spending the weekend at his Florida resort; on Friday he visited the headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the hub of the federal effort to combat the virus.

The spread of the highly infectious virus continues to advance across the globe. As of Sunday, about half of the world’s countries have reported cases of Covid-19, according to the World Health Organization. The global death count outside of China is approaching 500.

Italy, Europe’s most hard-hit nation, said it’s restricting movement and activity for a quarter of its population in the region around the financial capital of Milan.

Fauci said a vaccine deployable against Covid-19 will not be available “for at least a year to a year and a half.”

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