Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that taking comfort in news of declining coronavirus death rates is a”false narrative” encouraging “complacency.”
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci downplayed the apparent low death rate of the novel coronavirus pandemic in a press conference with Democrat Alabama Senator Doug Jones on Tuesday. He also emphasized that there was still a “window of opportunity” for the state to respond proactively to the outbreak.
“You’re not there yet, so you have an opportunity, a window to get your arms around this and to prevent it from getting worse,” Dr. Fauci said. “It’s not to the point where it’s out of hand and you know, very difficult to control. So you have a window of opportunity here, that as a state, you should not, you should, you know, take advantage of that window of opportunity.”
Fauci further characterized taking comfort in news about declining mortality as an empty comfort, claiming, “It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death. There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus,” and warning the public not to “get yourself into false complacency.”
Jones echoed Fauci’s concern, saying:
I think we do a disservice sometimes by focusing on the total amount of deaths, because we’ve seen a rise and that’s a problem for sure. But as the percentage of deaths may come down, that does not mean that this virus is not still very, very serious. That it disrupts education, disrupts businesses, disrupts lives, because it still is. It still will be deadly.
But I don’t want to get into a situation where we just accept a lower number of deaths as if this is the new normal. We’ve still got to do everything we can to get this virus snuffed out.
So just because deaths as a percentage of total cases may be coming down, it’s no reason at all to kind of let our foot off the gas when it comes to our social distancing, wearing masks and trying to control this virus.
Even amid what Fauci called a “resurgence” of the disease, he did admit to some optimism about the future. “The younger you are, the better you do and the less likely that you’re going to get seriously ill and die,” he said. “Number two, we definitely are better now at treating individuals particularly because we have a couple of therapies that work well in people with the disease.”
Despite being against “authoritarian” federal mandates regarding masks and other measures of prevention, Fauci strongly supports local measures to do the same. “The bottom line is it’s not going to be one-size fits all,” he said. “It’s going to depend on the level of infection in the community.”