Fauci: 'Just focus on washing your hands'

Anjalee Khemlani
·Senior Reporter
·3-min read

With novel coronavirus cases rising across the U.S. again, health experts are reiterating the simplest safety measures Americans can take to help protect themselves amid another surge.

Along with wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands, some Americans have taken other precautions to clean or sanitize things like phones, groceries and other objects that could potentially harbor the virus.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicated that might not be necessary.

When asked how he protects himself from the virus, Fauci told Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit, “I do have a bag that I bring into my house. Instead of worrying about the bag, I'll open the bag, and then I'll just wash my hands thoroughly, which is what you should do.”

That is in large part due to the most recent studies showing that the virus transmits largely through the air rather than on surfaces.

“If you look at the transmissibility, the epidemiology that we have a lot of experience with now, that is very likely a very, very minor, minor aspect of transmissibility. We can't say it's zero, it certainly is real and is finite, but it's minus,” Fauci said.

Which is why he emphasized that we should spend less time worrying about wiping down a grocery bag, and instead, focus on washing our hands more frequently.

It’s a message Fauci and his colleagues have been tirelessly reiterating, along with a new push for a national mask mandate.

In this September 2020 photo provided by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, shows a bandage on his arm after receiving an influenza vaccine to kick-off the 2020-2021 flu season with the NFID in Bethesda, Md. (NFID via AP)
In this September 2020 photo provided by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, shows a bandage on his arm after receiving an influenza vaccine to kick-off the 2020-2021 flu season with the NFID in Bethesda, Md. (NFID via AP)

In a Journal of American Medical Association article Monday, Fauci and his colleagues noted that mask-wearing and other “low-tech” interventions could have a significant impact on the outbreak.

The authors highlight a point many experts have made, which is that even if a vaccine is authorized or approved, it will take time to provide herd immunity through widespread inoculations.

“Even if one or more vaccines have high efficacy and uptake in the population, it will take at least several months for enough people to be vaccinated to confer herd immunity on a population basis,” according to the article.

In addition to masks, which help protect against the aerosolized droplets, washing hands to avoid any possible touch contact is another important low-tech measure.

“So you ask me what I do when I come from the grocery store or when someone gives me a take-out bag— which I do a lot now because I don't go into restaurants and sit down. I want to keep them going financially, so I do a lot of takeout,” Fauci said.

“I think doing that natural public health measure and not worrying about touching things that might or might not have anything to do with transmissibility,” is a way to resume a somewhat normal life, Fauci said.

“Just focus on washing your hands.”

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