Dr. Anthony Fauci to FOX 5: ‘It’s much better to close the bars and keep the schools open’

FOX 5's Lindsay Watts sat down with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for a one-on-one interview on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday.

When asked about some school districts in the D.C. region rolling back plans to reopen schools to in-person learning, Fauci says even in these current conditions, the default should be to get students back to school and keep them there.

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“Because we know, as a matter of fact, if you take some simple, proper precautions that children in school –– K-12, if you look at having a system in place where you could respond to any infection, that the infection rate among the children is much lower than one would’ve thought,” Fauci said. “It’s much better to close the bars and keep the schools open than to keep the bars open and close the schools.”

Fauci also responded to news reports that the White House Coronavirus Task Force will be recommending Americans make “significant” changes to their behavior.

“What we're talking about is not necessarily behavior changes. It's getting everyone on the same page of implementing certain public health measures that we know make a difference,” Fauci said.

He noted states have varying degrees of COVID-19 restrictions in place, and some people are still ignoring guidelines.

“I mean, we have a very divisive situation in our country where certain individuals think that wearing a mask is a political statement and refuse to do so,” Fauci said. “So those are the kind of things that we want to make sure uniformly we all pull together and are in this together.”

He said people should be doubling down on following restrictions.

“Together with a vaccine that’s coming soon, this entire region, D.C. and the surrounding states, will be in a situation where the level of infection will dramatically come down the same way that it dramatically went up,” said Fauci, who lives in D.C. and works in Bethesda, Maryland.

Fauci said he hadn’t yet spoken to President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, one day after the GSA allowed the transition to move forward. Fauci said he expects those conversations to happen soon.

On his reaction to the news of the transition, Fauci said, "I was very pleased to hear that because I have served six presidents and I have been through five transition processes, and I can assure you that smooth transitions from one administration to another is extremely important in getting the new administration to really hit the ground running."

On his thoguhts about a potential national mandate to wear masks, Fauci said, "I’m not so sure there will be a national mandate but certainly there will be a strong encouragement to utilize masks. if there is a national mandate if the president-elect Biden decides to make a national mandate I would encourage people to abide by that mandate."