Can't see a sudden 'relaxation' of COVID restrictions by Christmas: Fauci

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci is interviewed on "This Week."
15:43 | 11/29/20

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Transcript for Can't see a sudden 'relaxation' of COVID restrictions by Christmas: Fauci
Joining me now live is the director of the national institute of allergy a infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci, welcome back to "This week." Today could be the busiest travel day in the country since the start of the pandemic even though you and other public health leaders have made appeals for people to stay put and distance as much as possible. When you watch these scenes, what do you think? What else can you possibly say to them? Well, I mean, the travel that has been done has been done. Right now, as people go back, we want to urge them, if they've been in situations outside of the family setting in which they don't know the level of exposure, to be really careful when you either return from the place that you went or other people come back into ur house. You've really got to understand the importance of trying to prevent further spread and further surge. That may be when you go back to where you came from, if it's possible, quarantine yourself for a period of time, or even get tested to make sure that you're not bringing infection back to another place, be it another home, or another family. Having said that, we have to be careful now because there almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel. We understand the importance of families getting together and it's just something that we have to deal with that we likely will have an increase in cases as we get into the colder weeks of the winter and as we approach the Christmas season. Please don't forget the standard public health measures we talk about. The reason I say that, Martha, and almost plead with people is that we know it does work. Countries that have mitigated have turned around the surge. States that have mitigated have had a turnaround of the inflection of the curve. So it does work. As we just heard, help is on the way. Vaccines are really right on the horizon. We'll be having vaccines available for the higher priority people towards the middle and end of December and, as we get into January and February. Everybody is totally empathetic about the fatigue everyone is feeling. If we can hang in there a bit longer and do the fundamental things, wearing a mask, avoiding crowds in congregate settings, keeping physical distance, washing your hands. They seem simple in the enormity of the problem, but they do make a difference. So as much -- Dr. Fauci -- Yeah,o ahead. Dr. Fauci, yave said that again and again ain. Again, we saw all those people traveling. You know what's coming. With Christmas just around the corner do you think we'll be under the same restrictions you recommended on Thanksgiving going into Christmas? Martha, I can't see how we're not going to have the same thing. When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesrn around just like that. Clearly in the next few weeks we'll have the same sort of thing and perhaps two or three weeks down the line, Martha, we may see a surge upon a surge. We don't want to frighten people, but that's the reality. We said these things would happen as we got into the cold weather and as we began traveling, and they happened. It's going to happen again. I cannot see a relaxation of the kinds of recommendations or restrictions because we're getting into colder weather and an even larger holiday season as people travel for Christmas. I don't see a relaxing of the recommendations and restrictis we made. The supreme court struck down New York's covid restrictions on religious gatherings in the state. How concerned are you about legal challenges to the pandemic restrictions going forward? Well, I mean, they happen, Martha. There's nothing I can do about it. When people ask me about opinions on specific things, rather than comment on specific things, I can say it doesn't matter who you are or where you are, when you have congregate settings indoors, when people are not wearing masks, that's a risk for spread of infection. No matter what the circumstance is that is a risk. You said there should be more regular testing available for asymptomatic people. How soon do you think before Americans could have inexpensive home tests and why haven't they so far? Well, I hope it's sooner rather than later, Martha. We've done better in testing than we did early on in the beginning. You're talkingbout different kinds and different motivations and different objectives of testing. You're trying to find out if a person is infected either for contact tracing or what have you. You want a highly sensitive test that might take a day or two to get results back. When you're trying to find out the extent of the community spread, that's driven very clearly, at least in part, by asymptomatic spread. We need to know the extent. The only way you know that is what you asked for. I would like to have seen it already. I hope we get it soon. Rapid, sensitive specific home testing, even one you might not need a prescription for so people can have within their own power to know. It isn't as highly sensitive as the other. It's very helpful particularly if you do it over and over again. I hope we get that soon. Fauci, New York City public schools shut down again earlier this month. I know you said you would like to see the schools open. How do you make that happen and how do you advise the incoming Biden administration on getting a unified response? Martha, that's a good question. We get asked it all the time. We say it not being facetious. Close the bars and keep the schools open is what we say. You don't have one size fits all. As I said in the past and as you Acly quoted me, th default position should be to try as best as possible within reason to keep children in school, to get them back to school. The best way to ensure the safety of the children in school is to get the community level of spread low. So, if you mitigate the things that you know are causing spread in a very, very profound way, in a robust way, if you bring that down, you will then indirectly and ultimately protect the children in the school because the community level is determined how things go across my feeling would be the same thing. If you look at the data, the spread among children and from children is not really very big at all, not like one would have suspected. Let's try to get the kids back, but let's try to mitigate the things that maintain and just push the kind of community spread that we're tr to avoid. Those are the things that you know well. The bars, the restaurants where you have capacity seating indoors without masks, those are the things that drive the community spread, not the Dr. Fauci, you talked about the vaccine and the availability of the vaccine. The government can't force everyone to take the vaccine. What about schools, companies, employers, can they mandate a vaccine like in other vaccines? Any individual group can mandate vaccines in certain ways. It's not going to come centrally. I don't want to get ahead of the game. I doubt that would happen. Right now myself at the nih clinical center, I'm a physician. I see patients. I have to get the influenza vaccine or I can't see patients. Individual units, whether hospitals or other organizations, can do that. It's within their right to say if you want to work with us, you have to get a vaccine. That's not going to be, I believe, a centrally mandate Dr. Fauci, there are concerns about the anti-vaccination movement. An infectious disease specialist in Boston telling "The Boston

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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