With his season suspended indefinitely, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry was given some hope for the future by Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force and a former New York high school point guard, who believes America will be better prepared if and when another COVID-19 outbreak occurs.
‘We will get enough experience so that when it does come back we’ll be able to immediately identify, isolate and contact-trace,’ Fauci told Curry during a web interview on Thursday. ‘And if you do that effectively you don’t have an outbreak. You contain it at a very low level. Which would mean we won’t have to lockdown again.’
Fauci, an immunologist, played for New York’s Regis High School before attending Holy Cross in 1958.
Warriors star Steph Curry interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci on a live web chat Thursday
The NBA season has been on hiatus since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Since then no fewer than six other NBA players have also tested positive.
During Thursday’s interview on Instagram, Fauci explained that the NBA could not safely return until the number of coronavirus cases begins dropping significantly.
‘We can start thinking about getting back to some degree of normality when the country as a whole has turned that corner and starts coming down,’ Fauci told Curry from his office, which happened to feature a miniature basketball hoop. ‘Then you can pinpoint causes much more easily [instead of] getting overwhelmed by cases, which is what was going on in New York City.’
In the places where coronavirus cases are rare, Fauci explained, health officials can identify those who are sick and ask them to ‘contract trace’ by identifying those who they’ve been in contact with. From there, he said, it’s matter of quarantining those people.
But in places like New York or New Orleans, where the outbreak is at its worst, Fauci said the only possible strategy is ‘mitigation – trying to prevent the best you can the spread.’
On a more positive note, Fauci explained, there is reason to believe that once someone who had contracted coronavirus gets cleared of the infection, they will be immune to it going forward.
And if that turns out to be the case, populations can develop what he referred to as ‘herd immunity.’
‘Once you get infected, can you get re-infected?’ Fauci asked rhetorically. ‘We haven’t done the specific testing to determine that, but if this acts like every virus similar to it that we know, the chances are overwhelming that if you get infected, recover from infection, that you are not going to get infected with the same virus.
‘Which means you can then safely go out into the community and feel immune so that you can not only protect yourself and get back to work, get back to your job, but you’ll be able to have what’s referred to as herd immunity,’ he continued. ‘Enough people have recovered in the community. That gives the virus very little chance to spread rapidly. That’s what is referred to as herd immunity.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci (pictured here in 1958) is no stranger to basketball, and was even seen with a hoop in his office during Thursday’s web interview with Warriors star Stephen Curry
Fauci painted a stark picture for young people, who may think they’re immune to the virus, or those who compare its risks to the seasonal flue.
‘When people kind of compare it, in some respects it has some similarities, but it’s really, really different in its degree of seriousness,’ Fauci said. ‘The rate of mortality of seasonal flu, that you and I confront every year, is about 0.1 percent. The overall mortality of coronavirus is about 1 percent. Sometimes, like in China, it was up to 2 or 3 percent, which means it’s at least 10 times more serious than the typical influenza.’
Fauci explained that while only a ‘very, very small minority’ of young people could become seriously ill with coronavirus, there is still serious risks involved on top of the likelihood of spreading it to older people who ware more susceptible to the infection.
‘One, you need to protect yourself, because you’re not completely exempt from serious illness, but two, you can become the vector or the carrier of infection, where you get infected, you feel well and then you inadvertently and innocently pass it on to your grandfather or your grandmother or your uncle who’s on chemotherapy for cancer.’
Curry, for instance, said he felt like he had flulike symptoms and just stayed at home, which Fauci said was the right thing to do: ‘If someone right now gets flu-like symptoms, a fever, aches and a bit of a cough, the first thing you do is stay at home. Don’t go to the emergency room because you might be affecting others.’
Fauci also said it’s important not to overwhelm emergency rooms, saying that people should ‘stay at home’ if they’re symptomatic, call their health care providers or local health officials, and follow instructions.
Currently half a million people worldwide have contracted the virus, according to the Associated Press, while deaths have climbed over 23,000.
Fauci’s interview with Curry was promoted by both the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he directs, and the Anthony Fauci Fan Club