Coronavirus can spread “like wildfire,” especially when people are packed together, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“It has a phenomenal capability and efficiency in spreading from person to person,” Fauci said on Cuomo Prime Time Monday. “This virus has an enormous capabilities of spreading like wildfire. We know that. We’ve seen it in general and we’ve seen it in confined situations.”
Fauci cited the “explosion” of cases that quickly developed on the USS Teddy Roosevelt aircraft carrier and on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
“When you have people together, this is a virus that spreads as easily as any virus that I’ve ever known, apart from maybe from measles,” Fauci said.
Cases can take off again if people don’t maintain social distancing and other measures to reduce the spread of the virus, Fauci said.
“When you have mitigation that’s containing something, and unless it’s down in the right direction and you pull back prematurely, you’re going to get a rebound of cases,” Fauci said.
The model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation was updated Monday and now projects 134,475 total deaths in the US from the novel coronavirus by August 4.
Fauci said he is very sensitive to the downsides of physical distancing and the economic crisis these policies have caused.
“You’d have to be so callous not to really feel the pain that people are feeling,” Fauci said.
But he said mitigation efforts work and are still key to keeping the numbers of cases and deaths down, even if people disagree with the need for physical distancing.
“I feel I have a moral obligation to give the kind of information that I’m giving,” Fauci said.
He said he knows people are going to make their own choices.
“There are people, they’re going to be disagreeing with me. Some of them, rather violently in many respects, you know, telling me that I’m crazy, you know ‘Fire Fauci,’ do this, do that. That’s part of the game,” Fauci said. “I’m just going to keep giving you the information that I feel is necessary to make the decisions that I think are prudent decisions.”