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Americans should assess their personal risks as COVID-19 cases begin to increase, Anthony Fauci, MD, the chief medical adviser to the White House, said Sunday.
“We’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take in going to indoor dinners and in going to functions,” he said on ABC’s This Week.
“This is not going to be eradicated, and it’s not going to be eliminated,” he said. “So you’re going to make a question and an answer for yourself…. What is my age? What is my status? Do I have people at home who are vulnerable that if I bring the virus home, there may be a problem?”
About half of states are now reporting an increase in coronavirus cases. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that most of the country is still “in that green zone,” where masking isn’t required in indoor settings.
There is “concern that we are seeing an uptick in cases,” he said, but it’s “not unexpected that you’re going to see an uptick when you pull back” on safety protocols.
For instance, after the April 2 Gridiron Club Dinner, an annual event in Washington, DC, where journalists and government leaders mix, about 67 people tested positive among 600 attendees.
“I think the people who run functions, who run big dinners, who run functions like the White House Correspondents’ ball, or thinking back, the Gridiron Dinner, are going to have to make a determination looking at the CDC guidelines and seeing where the trends are,” Fauci said. “It’s going to be a person’s decision about the individual risk they’re going to take.”
President Joe Biden didn’t attend the dinner, according to ABC News, but he has been in contact with several people who have tested positive after the event or been labeled a close contact of someone who tested positive.
Fauci said Biden has “pretty strong” coronavirus protocols for protection, including frequent testing of those who spend extended time with him. Biden has also been fully vaccinated and received a second booster dose last month.
Fauci urged those who are eligible to get vaccinated and boosted, noting that it is the “best way” to live with “some degree of virus in the community.”
In the meantime, public health officials are watching metrics such as cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as the BA.2 subvariant spreads.
“Right now, we’re watching it very, very carefully,” Fauci said. “And there is concern that it’s going up. But hopefully, we’re not going to see increased severity.”