Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert who has become the public face of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, begged young people to take the coronavirus seriously, telling them that they’re “propagating the pandemic.”
As CNBC reported, Fauci sat down for an interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday night, during which he urged young Americans not to brush off the severity of the pandemic.
COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, was at one time believed to spare younger and healthier people. However, health officials are now re-thinking that idea as young and otherwise-healthy people, including teenagers and children, have gotten severely ill with COVID-19, and in some cases have died from it.
In fact, at a June 23 hearing, Fauci told a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that “we’re seeing more and more complications in young people.”
Similarly, Vice President Mike Pence had previously noted that roughly half of the new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were people under the age of 35, particularly in Florida and Texas.
Further, though the majority of youthful patients who contract an active infection from the virus may have mild symptoms or even no symptoms, they can still spread the virus to those around them. For this reason, Fauci implored young Americans to consider their roles in spreading the disease, even if they’re largely safe from it.
“You have to have responsibility for yourself but also a societal responsibility that you’re getting infected is not just you in a vacuum. You’re propagating the pandemic,” he said.
Fauci also admitted that it’s difficult for young people to refrain from doing things they’d otherwise do, such as going to bars, restaurants, the movies, calling their desire to do those things “totally understandable.”
“I get that. I was there at one point in my life,” he said.
Fauci has received sharp criticism from the Trump administration. In fact, according to Business Insider, the Trump team launched a “smear campaign” against Fauci, even going so far as to release a list of all of the times he has been wrong about the pandemic.
Still, the National Institute Of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, who has served under six presidents, said he has no intention of resigning. Trump, for his part, has rejected suggestions that he’s intent on firing Fauci.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are surging across the United States, and more than 138,000 people have died from the disease.