Aug 3, 2020
CT Gov. Ned Lamont & Dr. Anthony Fauci Press Conference Transcript August 3
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Dr. Anthony Fauci held a virtual press conference on August 3. Dr. Fauci said Connecticut is in a “good place” with coronavirus infections. Read the transcript here.
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Governor Ned Lamont: (02:32)
Good afternoon, everybody. I’ll just give you a quick follow on from the storm report you just heard about, probably hitting Connecticut late tomorrow afternoon, hitting hard, probably 6:00 in the evening, something like that. 60 mile an hour winds plus. I apologize to all the restaurants, I said, please move everything outside, a couple of months ago, now you probably want to be moving a lot of this furniture and the such inside. Usually at this point I’d be saying, we’ll be opening up the emergency operation center, but actually it hasn’t closed down since March, more on that as the week goes on. Very briefly, the COVID daily summary, I think this is over the last three days, sadly, we’ve passed 50,000 positive COVID tests, 252 since Friday, a big number, but remember that still is less than 1% of all the tests taken. That’s a 0.7% positivity. So given our special guest today, I was really hoping I didn’t have to report bad news and this continues to be good news for the state of Connecticut.
Governor Ned Lamont: (03:39)
This next chart reminds you of what we’re really focused on in terms of reopening our schools in a safe format going forward. And a lot of people have said, “What will be your metrics in terms of opening and what will be your metrics in terms of closing?” So I just wanted to give you an idea of first of all, low, moderate and high, that’s yellow, orange, and red, and the key metric, right there is the number of new cases per 100,000 over a seven day average. As long as we’re less than 10 cases, we figured that’s a good reason why you can have your schools open for in-person learning, less than 10, right now, we’re at two, to give you an example. And more broadly, the secondary indicators are those that I think we’ve been talking about over the last four months, the percent positivity, hospitalization admissions, just to give us an idea of any trendline there in emergency room, just because that gives us an early indication of what we ought to be thinking about.
Governor Ned Lamont: (04:43)
What would we do with this information? I’ll tell you in one second, but this next chart is interesting because it gives you an idea of how we do as a state of Connecticut right now. I told you the number of cases per 100,000 seven day is two in the state of Connecticut. It ranges, bounces around a little bit, two and a half in Fairfield, Hartford is doing very well right now in terms of where you see in those number of cases, the positivity, we’ve talked a lot about that, the percentage of people tested who test positive. I think this sort of speaks for itself. You’ll see Windom popped up a little bit, there’ve been some parties in Wyndham, watch out, so that bounced up their numbers a little bit. But these numbers are all tight within a range, if we’re two in Connecticut, that’s our percent per 100,000.
Governor Ned Lamont: (05:35)
You got to remember that Florida is 42 and California is 20 and Georgia is 34. So you can see, we have very strict metrics when it comes to reopening our schools, wanted to give you that sense. Rhode Island has popped up to 10. If we’re two, they’re 10, they’re right on the borderline in terms of the quarantine position we’ve got in place so we’ll be watching that carefully. New York, our friends to the South, they were three and a half, so they’re in very good standing right now. The next chart is how will the metrics be used? First of all, we’re going to update these on a County by County basis, so that you’ll know that weekly. So that will allow our State Department of Education, local public health, and the superintendents of schools in each of your local districts, to make the call in the low, moderate, high category, whether it’s time to move from in person to hybrid or hybrid to stay home. And we’ll be able to give you that update on a very regular, real time basis.
Governor Ned Lamont: (06:42)
All right, I’m really just a warm up band here today and I’m really proud to introduce Dr. Anthony Fauci, who obviously doesn’t need much introduction. You know him as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, I know him as somebody I listen to whenever I get the opportunity. As you know we have led from the beginning here in the state of Connecticut, with science, not politics, with science, and we’ve had Scott Gottlieb and Zeke Emanuel and Albert Ko and Dr. Carter, you’ve heard of all the folks who are meant there to A, explain, explain to me and explain to you what we’re doing and why we’re doing it and why we think it makes sense. And we realized there’s a lot we got to learn along the way.
Governor Ned Lamont: (07:32)
Nobody has been more helpful for me, than the good doctor. I really appreciate what you’re doing here at Dr. Fauci. I got to say on the COVID calls from the White House Dr. Fauci is the man I always listen to. Dr. Fauci has been at the lead, he has advised, I think it’s six different presidents, going back to president Reagan, going back to AIDS and zika an anthrax and H1N1 and Ebola, and is such an authority with credibility, can explain what’s going on when it comes to COVID. Dr. Fauci, I’m so proud that you’re here via Zoom, to tell us a little bit about what you see going on in the state of Connecticut, more broadly, what you see going forward. And if you’d like to say a few things, that’d be great, or we can open it up to our friends in the press. Dr. Fauci.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (08:23)
Thank you very much, Governor. I really appreciate the opportunity to be with you today. I just want to say a word or two, in contrast and comparison, this is a very serious situation that our country is facing. You don’t need anybody to tell you that, you just need to look at the numbers. We’ve gotten hit quite badly with regard to total number of cases, 4.6 million cases and 154,000 deaths. Different parts of the country right now are in different states with regard to the prevalence and the incidence of the virus. Right now, as you know, there has been a surge of cases in certain Southern states, which thankfully are now starting to plateau off, California, Florida, Texas, Arizona. There are other states that are now at risk and that they’re starting to tick up with regard to the percent positive and we’re concerned and want to make sure we don’t let that resurgence occur.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (09:26)
Connecticut is in a good place. The numbers that the governor just showed are really indicative that you are in a situation that you now are, in many respects, have the upper hand, because you have such a low rate that when you do get new cases, you have the capability of containment, as opposed to mitigation. But the other thing I heard from the Governor that I’m very pleased with is that despite the favorable numbers, you’re not pulling back on your vigilance and making sure you don’t have a resurgence of cases that would put you back rather than stay where you are and going forward. One of the things that we need to be absolutely certain of and I liked my conversation with the governor before, when he was saying that you have maintained certain things that I consider five or six of the very important things that we need to do to stay ahead of the virus. Universal using of masks, avoid crowded places, six foot distance, maintain that whether you have a mask or not, but always try to have a mask on.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (10:37)
Indoors are worse than outdoors, outdoors are always more favorable for no transmission versus indoor, where there is transmission. The other thing is stay away from bars, I understand that many of the bars are closed, I know that’s difficult from an economic standpoint, but that’s a big spreader of infection. And finally, wash your hands, have good hand hygiene. Just those five or six things are very important and have been successful in containing outbreaks, as well as preventing the resurgences. So I’ll stop there and I look forward to answering any questions you might have.
Governor Ned Lamont: (11:19)
Thanks Dr. Fauci.
Speaker 1: (11:20)
Channel Three Eyewitness News.
Speaker 2: (11:24)
Yes. Question for Dr. Fauci, parents and teachers, they’re watching this right now, looking for guidance when it comes to reopening the schools. Here in Connecticut, we’re seeing the younger population here getting infected at a higher rate and that’s shaking their confidence when they’re asked to go back in less than a month. Do you foresee schools being a potential site of a resurgence?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (11:46)
Well, I mean, obviously there’s always a risk of that. The numbers that the Governor showed, where he was showing the different colors and the percentage is low, there’s always a risk, but I think if we, as he said, depending upon what level you’re in, my approach is always, and I’ll say it whether I’m in Connecticut or in any other place, is that the default position should be to try as best as you possibly can to open up the schools for in-person learning, for the following reason. It’s important for the children because of the psychological benefit and in some places, even for the nutrition of children who rely on the breakfast and the lunches in school for proper nutrition. Number two, there are important negative downstream effects that are unintended, but can occur, of a ripple effect on the parents who have to dramatically modify their own work schedule when you keep children at home.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (12:56)
Having said that, there’s a big however there, and the however is the primary consideration should always be the safety, the health and the welfare of the children, as well as the teachers and the secondary effects for spreading of the regard to the parents and other family members. If the infection rate is so low that there’s very little chance of there being infection spread, then you should feel okay about doing it, but making sure that you do the things that are necessary to prevent spread, and those can be done at the local level. The other thing is it’s always up to the final decision of the responsible parent to do what’s best for the child. We can only show you that when the infection is low at the level you’re seeing now, the risk is low, but if you do start to see infections, you may need to pull back.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (13:55)
I believe it was Scott Gottlieb who advised the Governor who said to try and get the early months in because when you get into the fall and winter, there may be more cases that make it more difficult. Again, you need to be very flexible, with the primary motivating force being the safety and the welfare of the children and the teachers.
Speaker 2: (14:18)
Yes. And doctor on the flip side of that question, can any positives be taken away from the younger population getting it and surviving it when it comes to herd immunity?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (14:29)
Herd immunity is something that’s always discussed. One of the things you got to be careful of is as follows. One, when children get infected, even though statistically, they have a much, much lower chance of getting a severe outcome and requiring hospitalization, when you look at the graphs, you see hospitalization per 100,000, when you’re dealing with children of school age, it’s extremely low, but then it goes way up as you get into the aged population. That’s a good.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (15:03)
… as you get into the aging population, that’s a good thing. The only thing is, that there still is a risk, children can get seriously ill. It’s a rare event, but it is not zero. Particularly the thing that we’re learning about the… This hyper inflammatory syndrome that some children get. So, we should never take it lightly going for herd immunity by getting the children infected. In the big picture of things, that is a good thing that you want herd immunity, but at the expense of the risk the children… At the expense of their transmitting it to someone who would be at a risk, I think we have to be very careful. The best thing to do is to try and avoid infection as opposed to wanting to get infection so that you can get herd immunity. Avoiding infection is what you want to do.
Speaker 3: (15:56)
[inaudible 00:15:59]. NBC Connecticut.
Speaker 5: (16:11)
Hi, Dr. Fauci. What we know about kids in the coronavirus seems to be evolving. Once it was thought that kids were at lower risk of transmission and now there are studies that seem to challenge that, can you help teachers and parents understand the risks for kids?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (16:26)
Speaker 5: (16:27)
[crosstalk 00:16:26], how they’d like to see their kids return to school.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (16:29)
That is a very good question. And I think this is something that we should be thinking about whenever we’re talking about COVID-19, we are still in a learning process. And we have to be humble enough, all of us, health providers, public health officials, scientists, and physicians like myself, we’ve got to be humble enough to know that as we learn things, we may need to change what our policy is and how we think about things. So what do we know now that could change? A study came out from Korea that showed that children from 10 to 19 can transmit, when they’re infected, can transmit infections to adults, as well as adults can transmit to adults. Children younger than 10, apparently, do not transmit it as well. The question is, do children readily get infected? We thought that, early on, maybe not as readily as adults do, but then certain studies have come out to show that when you look at serious surveys, well look at even direct infection, that children can get infected. So, you shouldn’t be assuming that children are not getting infected.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (17:49)
Another recent study showed that when you look at the level of virus in the nasopharynx of children, it’s 10 to maybe even multiple more times amount of virus in the nasopharynx of younger children compared to the older children. And if you have that amount of virus in your nasal passage, you need to assume that that child can transmit the virus to someone else. Again, we’re going to do a study that’s ongoing right now at the NIH called, a HEROS study, involving 6,000 people and 2000 families, to try and nail down once and for all, what is the incidence and prevalence of infection? How do children get infected? When they do get infected, how well do they pass it onto others? We’re getting some information from studies, but we need to definitively nail that down because there are still some open questions.
Speaker 5: (18:54)
And also, just teachers have raised concern that if schools here are at full capacity there won’t be the proper social distancing, do you share that concern? And how important is proper social distancing in that setting?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (19:09)
I’d have to tell you that social distancing is important, as is the wearing of masks, as is avoiding crowds, all the things that I just said when I said there were five or six principles that we need to abide by. So, to the extent possible, try and maintain the social distancing wherever you are, including in the schools. I know sometimes that is physically difficult to do, I know that. My daughter is a school teacher in New Orleans and she tells me, “Dad, be careful when you say do these things, they may not be technically as easy to do as you think it is.” So, I’m aware of that, but we need to try as best as we can.
Speaker 3: (19:54)
Zinnia Maldonado: (19:59)
Hi, governors. Zinnia Maldonado, Fox 61. My first question is going to be for Dr. Fauci. So, Sanofi owns Protein Sciences here in Connecticut, what role do you believe Connecticut may play in launching a vaccine for COVID? And do you think we will be able to meet let alone global but just national demand for this vaccine?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (20:20)
Okay, that’s a good question. There are a number of vaccine candidates that are at various stages of development. Two of them, interestingly, have entered into phase three trials. There are… Phase three trial mean, you’re having thousands of people, in this case, 30,000 people, 15,000 in the experimental [inaudible 00:00:20:45], and 15,000 in the placebo-controlled [inaudible 00:00:20:49]. These are being launched in multiple sites, there are 89 clinical trials sites that will be utilized to test the vaccine. We are certain that you can find a site in Connecticut that will be able to enroll patients. In fact, if you go to the website, coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org, you can do two things, you can enroll and express your interest in being part of a clinical trial, and you could look at the map that’s in that website that shows you all the different sites that will be enrolling individuals.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (21:32)
So the answer to your question is that given the number of sites and given the number of trials, the Sanofi trial will probably be several months down the pipe. So the way the trials are enrolling, there’s about five or six of them in this country, at least. We have two that have started advanced testing, one will start in a month, and then a month after that, and a month after that. So, when Sanofi gets going, if they use the sites that are available, that the NIH is helping as well as the company, you will have accessibility. The second part of your question is, when do you think a vaccine will be available? Well, the trial that started in July 27th, just a few days ago, last week, it’s going to take about three months to enroll individuals in the trial. It’s a prime and a boost, which means by the time you get enough information to know that it’s a safe and effective vaccine, likely will be at the end of the fall, the beginning of the winter, towards the end of this calendar year. So, we are cautiously optimistic.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (22:44)
Based on the data we know from the phase one trial, which means that when individuals and volunteers were injected, small number, though may be, we showed that you can induce the kind of neutralizing antibody response that is predictive that the vaccine would be effective. Namely, a level of neutralizing antibody that is at least equivalent to, in some cases, better than, natural infection. So, clearly we have at least cautious optimism. If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective by the end of this year, vaccine doses should be available as we go into 2021 and into the first, second, and third quarter. It is conceivable that if there are enough infections and we are giving the vaccine in those areas where there’s a lot of infection, that you may get an answer sooner than November and December, but it’s more likely going to be towards the end of the year.
Zinnia Maldonado: (23:50)
And then, yesterday here at the State Capitol in Connecticut, there was a rally where certain doctors were speaking on how science points to wearing a mask is ‘useless’, which you’ve spoken out against, what’s your message to those who still believe mask wearing is unnecessary and are now using science to back that message?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (24:10)
Well, first of all, there are now… Have accumulated over the last couple of months and even data before then, that if you look at the totality of the data, which is masks together with social distancing, avoiding crowds, masks as part of this have been shown in meta-analysis to diminish the infection transmissibility and acquisition by a significant percent. No intervention in and of itself is perfect, but there’s no doubt that wearing masks properly, wearing them indoors, particularly in outdoors also, keeping social distance, clearly is beneficial in preventing the surgence of infection and turning around the kinds of resurgences that we’ve seen in the Southern states. So, for those who say, “Don’t wear a mask, it’s of no benefit.” That is untrue and misleading.
Zinnia Maldonado: (25:14)
And then lastly, we know that the governor extended an invitation, but could you tell us quickly why you decided to address the people of Connecticut today?
Speaker 3: (25:22)
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (25:23)
Why I decided to? Well, I’ve worked with governors for months now, the governor will mention, I’ve had interactions with your governor in the Governors call from the White House that we do, the vice president does that not infrequently, there are very good information that is exchanged. So when the governor asked me if I would do this, I thought it would be a good idea, and I did it.
Speaker 3: (25:52)
News 12 Connecticut. WTIC 1080 News.
Speaker 4: (26:01)
Doctor, good afternoon and thanks for coming on. You mentioned goggles last week, what would use the goggles achieve and is that something that it’s possible to implement?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (26:12)
Well, I… It’s a good question because we’re talking about schools. I actually made that statement when I was addressing a group of school teachers who said, “Some of us would feel more comfortable if we prevented any kind of a…. Because we get so close to the children, in addition to a mask, to cover the eyes with something like either goggles or a face sheild like this.” I’m not saying that everybody should do this, but the question was asked, could that be of benefit? Since the virus can enter through what we call mucosal surfaces, the mouth, the nose, also the eyes, that it would not be a bad idea if you have the availability of it to wear some sort of covering. It isn’t the firm recommendation, but when you think about it, if you have the opportunity to do it, it could be a good idea to do that, as several of the teachers in that group were actually already doing or thinking of doing when they go back to school.
Speaker 4: (27:16)
Also, when you tell the President of the United States that disinfectants are poison to people and chloroquine is a toxic drug that’s used to treat a parasite, malaria, not a virus, what’s his response?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (27:30)
Well, I… When I make recommendations, I make them broadly. And I have said and I’ll say it right now, I mean, obviously disinfectants, injecting or whatever, is dangerous and should not be done by anybody. Everybody knows that that’s my stance on that, I’ve made it very clear. The other thing is that, when you’re making evaluations of therapies, this gold standard, are randomized placebo-controlled trials not anecdotal experiences, because the history of medicine tells us very clearly that these anecdotal experiences in uncontrolled trials are often misleading. Sometimes they can be helpful to stimulate you to do a randomized placebo-controlled trial.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (28:21)
So you don’t just disregard anecdotal information, it sometimes is the spur to take that question and definitively answer it. And thus far, in all of the randomized placebo-controlled trials that have looked at various components of different stages of disease with COVID-19, have shown that hydroxychloroquine is not effective therapy for COVID-19. Now, I would keep an open mind still, if a randomized placebo-controlled trial comes by and says, is it effective in this particular stage of disease early or whatever? I would always look at that data and properly evaluate. But, right now with the information that we have on well controlled trials, there does not appear to be any efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19.
Speaker 4: (29:20)
And next, a very quick follow up. When you reason with the president and you give him all that science you just gave, how does he respond? Does he say, “I don’t believe you.”?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (29:30)
No. He hears… I don’t have a dialogue… I have not had a dialogue with him saying one thing or another. He knows exactly how I feel about hydroxychloroquine.
Speaker 3: (29:41)
The Associated Press.
Reporter 1: (29:46)
Thank you, governor. And thank you, Dr. Fauci. You mentioned earlier that Dr. Gottlieb recommended trying to get in as much schooling as possible this fall. Having said that, how long can Connecticut realistically expect to maintain its current low infection rate of around 1%?
Reporter 1: (30:01)
-current low infection rate of around 1%.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (30:04)
That’s a good question, and thank you for asking it. I actually believe that you are in a good place because your baseline is very low, and if you do the things that I mentioned, the five or six fundamental principles, and you have in place the capability or the manpower and the tests that when you do get blips of infection, which inevitably will occur. It’s not going to completely be eradicated from the state of Connecticut, for the simple reason that it’s all around you. You know that.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (30:41)
You happen to be in a good place. If you can then use the kind of identification, isolation, and contact tracing, it is not inevitable that your numbers will go up. It is possible that you can use the favorable position that you are in now to keep the numbers down. When you look at it as a country, as I mentioned in my very brief opening remarks, as a nation, when we went up and came down, we did not come down to a really good baseline. We came down to 20,000 cases per day, and we went along that for weeks and weeks and months, actually, until we started to try and open up the country. Then you had the big rebound up to 30, 40, 50, 60, and even 70,000 cases per day as a country and 1,000 deaths. I urge you to utilize the advantageous position that you’re in in Connecticut with a very low baseline to try and keep it there by doing the things that I’ve just mentioned.
Reporter 1: (31:56)
One other question. You may know this, but in Connecticut, the state decided to discharge COVID-positive nursing home residents from the hospital to special COVID-only homes so they could recuperate. Given your national perspective, how did Connecticut’s approach work in terms of controlling spread and reducing deaths compared to other states’ approaches?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (32:21)
Well, I think you did very well. I mean, obviously, where you are now is in a very good place. The thing about Connecticut is that Southern Connecticut is part of the … as you well know better than I. I mean, you’re there, is part of the New York Metropolitan Area, which, unfortunately, got hit very, very hard. It was the first part of the United States that got hit very hard from cases that were coming over from Europe. So it was kind of, unfortunately, in a situation that they were the first ones to get hit, and that’s why things were very difficult there for a while. But getting back to where you are right now is a good place, and I urge you to do everything you can, I know your governor feels committed to that, to keep you in that good place.
Reporter 1: (33:12)
Thank you, sir.
The Hartford Current.
Hartford Current: (33:16)
Hey. I want to start with a question for Governor Lamont. Governor, another reporter mentioned that rally outside the Capitol yesterday. What is your response to that rally? I know you’ve preferred a lighter touch with people who don’t follow social distancing, but do you have any response to people who are kind of openly flouting the orders you put in place?
Governor Ned Lamont: (33:40)
Yeah. We’re going to deal with that strictly. We’re looking at the possibility of fines and other ways we can hold people accountable, especially, as you point out, when they openly flout it. That creates a dangerous situation not just for them, but, as Dr. Fauci says, for the greater community. We’re not going to stand for it.
Hartford Current: (33:57)
Thanks. I also wanted to ask Dr. Fauci, do you think that college towns should be nervous as students begin to come back to college in the fall from all over the country, potentially? Should the residents of those towns or the officials in those towns be worried that kids are going to be bringing the virus with them into the college towns?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (34:18)
Well, it’s very interesting, because it depends upon how the universities handle. I don’t know, and I wouldn’t comment right now, because you have a number of universities in the state of Connecticut, one of the more famous ones in the country in the state of Connecticut in New Haven. But when I speak to college presidents and university presidents, they have different plans that I think if they implement them when they bring the students back, if they bring the students back, looks pretty good, namely, testing people before they get there, once they get there, testing them, and even keeping them quarantined for the amount of time of the quarantine, which, as you know, is about 14 days. So you may have a situation where, if done properly, it would not be a risk. But then again, you’ve got to be careful when you get people coming in from outside. But I think if they maintain the guidelines that are put together for people coming back, they should be fine.
Hartford Current: (35:25)
The Day of New London.
The Day of New London: (35:31)
Dr. Fauci, I wanted to ask we’re hearing now referred to where we are as a nation as a new phase of the disease, if not a new wave, and that there’s some things that are different about it now than there were maybe back in March and April. So I wonder if you could describe what is different and what might Connecticut have to be on the lookout for now that it wasn’t in March and April?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (35:59)
Well, that’s a very good question, and what you are referring to was a statement made by my colleague, Dr. Deborah Birx, on one of the Sunday shows yesterday. What Dr. Birx was referring to was the prevalence now in the United States as a nation, particularly in some of the states that are having surging of infection, is what’s called inherent community spread. The reason why she’s saying it’s a new phase is because throughout the country, when you have community spread, it’s much more difficult to get your arms around that and contain it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (36:40)
So there are spreads that you know where it is and you can contain it. For example, nursing home outbreaks, meat, packing plant outbreaks, prison outbreaks. It’s unfortunate that they occur, but you know exactly what you’re dealing with, and you could go in there and try and suppress the infection and contain it, whereas when you have community spread, it’s insidious. There are people who are spreading it who have no symptoms at all, and we know that definitely occurs. It’s difficult to identify it, and it’s difficult to do identification, isolation, and contact tracing.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (37:23)
So what Dr. Birx was saying, it becomes much more complicated when you have community spread, which is very insidious. That’s what she meant by a different phase of where we’re going right now, because it isn’t easily identifiable who these spreaders are. That makes it much more difficult to contain.
The Day of New London: (37:50)
CT News Junkie.
CT News Junkie: (37:54)
Thanks, Max. This question is for Dr. Fauci. In the early months, a lot of decisions were made to ensure that frontline healthcare workers would have enough PPE to treat COVID patients, despite the shortage. Here we are, months later. We’re still facing shortages across the country. What is it going to take to trigger the manufacturing of PPE at large scale here?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (38:21)
That’s a very good question. When we meet at the task force meeting, for the most part, and I know you’ll always find exceptions, but for the most part, people have enough PPE to be able to do what they need to do. For those areas, cities, states, or counties, that don’t, they keep track of that at the FEMA level, and I think that if it is the case that you still are having trouble with PPE, I would urge you to contact the FEMA rep in your area and make that known, because they can get PPE to you if you need it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (39:03)
I mean, I know because when I sit in at the task force meetings, we often have a report from what the supply is, the supply chain, and whenever there are areas. If you are one of them, then we need to do something about that to get you the proper amount of PPE. So that should be something that’s correctable.
CT News Junkie: (39:25)
Does it make you concerned that we’re opening up schools and we still have testing results that are a week delayed?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (39:33)
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:39:36].
CT News Junkie: (39:34)
So [crosstalk 00:09:36].
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (39:36)
Well, Admiral Giroir, again, addressed that yesterday, that it is unfortunate that there is still a delay. They are trying to correct that by getting the proper number of tests and getting the system from … It’s been overloaded now because of the outbreaks that we’re seeing in certain states throughout the country. But to have a delay of five to seven days, in many respects, obviates the actual purpose of the testing, to get it back to someone in time so that you can do something about it if they’re infected. So that’s unfortunate. They’re trying to correct that. Hopefully, as we get the weeks ahead, that we will get more tests and that will be corrected.
CT News Junkie: (40:23)
Governor Ned Lamont: (40:25)
Hey, Dr. Fauci, I’d just add to that that because we use primarily local labs, our median is one day in results for our tests. 85% come back in a two or three days, and we’re going to try and get that turnaround even faster.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (40:39)
Well, that’s very good, Governor, because that means that the contact tracing that relates to what one of the other questioners asked can be much more effective. If you get the one, at the most two, day turnaround, that makes contact tracing much easier and makes it more effective.
The Waterbury Republican American.
The Waterbury Republican American: (41:08)
Thank you. Sorry about the technical error. This is a question, I guess, for Dr. Fauci and the governor. Connecticut’s policy is basically to limit testing to people who show symptoms, and you just spoke about the need for more contact tracing, testing, and that sort of thing in terms of the college students coming to campus. So one, I’m wondering, what are your thoughts on how widespread testing should be, and two, do you think teachers and students and other school staff should be regularly tested?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (41:46)
Well, I don’t want to be commenting on it because I don’t know exactly what the status is, and maybe the governor can answer that. But right now that they’re really trying to expand, first of all, you should be testing people you need to be testing. When you’re trying to do contact tracing and you know that there are several people, 30, 40, 45% of cases are asymptomatic, that you may want to think twice about limiting testing only to symptomatic people, because you may need to do testing of people without symptoms if you really want to get a good feel for what you’re dealing with, not only with contact tracing, but also for trying to get what the prevalence of infection is in the community. So you should probably ultimately have the capability of going beyond just those individuals who are symptomatic. Now, I’m sorry, but I missed the second question.
The Waterbury Republican American: (42:51)
Josh Geballe: (42:51)
For Dr. Fauci, this is Josh Geballe, the governor’s Chief Operating Officer. The reporter’s question, so we do test beyond symptomatic. So our testing strategy is clearly to focus on anyone with even mild symptoms. But we also for several months now have been testing anyone who’s had close contact with a confirmed case, and then we’ve been executing a targeted testing strategy for people without symptoms in the communities that are highest at risk, so broad-based testing of nursing homes and other congregate facilities, our prisons, as well as our cities, our densely populated urban communities that have been hit hard. We’ve invested extensively in testing capabilities for people without symptoms in those communities, and that’s really been a key lever that we’ve used to drive our infection rates down as low as they are today.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (43:37)
Well, I’m glad you chimed in. The question, I didn’t think … testing people who are asymptomatic. I doubt if … get numbers down so low with only testing. So thank you [inaudible 00:43:58] surprised at that question [inaudible 00:43:58].
The Waterbury Republican American: (44:03)
What about the testing of students and teachers?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (44:07)
Well, it depends on which on which [inaudible 00:44:09] or students in a dorm [inaudible 00:14:13]. I mean, one of the things that [inaudible 00:44:16] surveillance [inaudible 00:44:17] are planning to do that. I think that’s a decision that would have to be made locally by your health officials. Again, depending upon the level of infection in the community, it might be prudent to do some sort of surveillance to get a feel for what is in the community because of so many asymptomatic infections. I would leave that up to the local health officials.
The Waterbury Republican American: (44:46)
Governor, what about students and teachers?
Governor Ned Lamont: (44:51)
I think, like Dr. Fauci said, right now, we’re going to target our testing where we think it has the greatest impact. When you have a less than 1% or 1% infection rate, we want to make it an incredibly impactful-
Governor Ned Lamont: (45:03)
We want to make it incredibly impactful. That said for any teacher that wants to get tested, we have 160 testing sites all around the state. We can give them access and make sure that they can get tested before the school year begins.
The Waterbury Republican American: (45:16)
And governor real quick, final question. The president today, he came out against providing any sort of assistance to state and local governments in the next Coronavirus revenue package. He basically said it would be a bailing out to badly run Democratic cities and states.
Governor Ned Lamont: (45:41)
Look, there’s a lot of negotiations going to go on. I think is just a warning shot across the bow. We’re going to figure out something that allows our economy to stabilize and go forward. It’s in the best interest of the economy. And by far, the best interest of our economy is public health priority number one.
Speaker 6: (45:59)
Hearst Connecticut Media.
Hearst Connecticut Media: (46:04)
Hi, this question is for Dr. Fauci. It appears from the metrics that Governor Lamont showed today that most of Connecticut if not all of it, would fall into the low risk category, which favors more in-person learning for students. Although Connecticut is doing well, the rest of the country would not fall into that low risk category. And as the governor pointed out, Rhode Island, which borders Connecticut is not in the low risk category. So how concerned should Connecticut be when it comes to in-person learning with the rest of the country and do you favor broad in-person learning for the State of Connecticut, based on that data?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (46:48)
Again, it’s a good question and it will keep recurring because this is such an important issue to us in this country because of the importance of getting our children in school. I don’t want to be repetitive but I want to get back to just reemphasizing the default position that we take. That to the best of our capability, we should try and get the children back to school for the reasons that I mentioned. But again, the however or but of that is always for the safety, health, and welfare of the children and the teachers and then the spinoff to the parents.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (47:28)
If you have a situation where you can keep your numbers as low as they are, and again, you have an advantage there because you have a low baseline, you’re at a percentage that really is quite low, that you should be able with care, to open up for in-person learning. If the situation changes, you need to be flexible enough to make the kinds of changes that always keep in mind, the safety, the health, and the welfare of the children and the teachers. I hope this situation does not change in Connecticut because you’re in a very good place. It’s good to be there just because it’s a good place to be, but it also gives you the advantage that as cases crop up, it will be much easier for you to do the kind of containment by identification, isolation and contact tracing.
Hearst Connecticut Media: (48:32)
Thank you. And in many of the school reopen plans that have been presented, given space constraints, they allow for three feet of spacing between desks. In your five or six steps for containment, you emphasize the six feet of social distancing. So is three feet adequate for schools?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (48:53)
I can’t give a definitive answer there because six feet is kind of an empiric determination based on what one thinks about how droplets can travel before they go down. But now that we’re dealing and we’ll have to deal with the possibility of aerosolized, then what is more important is good ventilation, really, as well as trying to keep as further distance as you possibly can, given the technical constraints in the classroom, you should try to get six. If you can’t and three is the best you can do, then there are other things you can do to mitigate against spread. There could be mass squaring, depending upon the age of the children. Is it feasible to have a child at a certain age keep a mask on, as well as good ventilation in the classroom, because we know outdoors is always better than indoors and good ventilation is always better than no ventilation.
Hearst Connecticut Media: (50:01)
Many schools are older and do not have good ventilation. So how do you deal with that?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (50:07)
Well then I guess you have to do the risk benefit again, depending upon what you think the risk in your community is. If the risk is very low, you might try to see if you can open the schools. And if you can’t, then you go to the other models that the governor had, at least on the material that he’s shown me, that depending upon the level of risk, there are different models.
Speaker 6: (50:32)
The Connecticut Mirror.
Connecticut Mirror: (50:35)
Dr. Fauci, given what you said about the importance of in-person education if the metrics allow, should the State of Connecticut take local superintendents off the hook and basically mandate in-person instruction? Again, if the metrics justify that.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (50:55)
That’s really a question I can’t answer. It would be presumptuous of me to come into the State of Connecticut and talk about what the governor and what the officials should do. I know I’ve worked with the governor now for several months, and I think he’s perfectly capable of making that decision. He’s quite well-informed about how to do this.
Connecticut Mirror: (51:18)
Let me ask that another way. You have struggled, Dr. Birx has struggled, others have struggled in an environment where there are mixed messages to say the least from everyone, from the president on down. So let me ask it this way. What are the risks? What are the dangers to public health if there are mixed messages? We could have a situation in Connecticut where in the same county with the same metrics that in one district, kids are in two days a week and home three on the next one, they’re there in five days a week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (51:50)
Well, I’m not sure that that’s a mixed message. I think that’s just a different policy based on what happens to be going on in a given location. I think that the governor and the health officials, and again I’m new to this for the State of Connecticut, because I don’t follow on a daily basis the State of Connecticut, but a message that comes from the governor is I think a unified message and the health officials at the senior level have the same message. How people implement it one way or the other, then you get into the issue of mandating. And I’m not sure what enforcement of mandates are in the state and I’m treading on thin ice there and I don’t want to be making a statement that is not going to be appropriate. So that’s the reason why I defer to the governor and the health officials in the state.
Connecticut Mirror: (52:43)
Oh, you’ve been skating on thin ice quite well for a while doctor. The last question is, how do you balance risk factors? When you talk about public health metrics, those are some hard numbers. How do you balance that against what you said very eloquently about the risk to children, lack of socialization, and so forth if they’re not in the classroom. How do you balance those two things?
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (53:09)
Well, it’s a tough thing to balance because it becomes a judgment call. As I said, the default position should always be to try and get the kids in school for the reasons that I’ve mentioned a couple of times. But their safety, their health and their welfare trumps everything. That’s very important. So if you get to the point where you look at the metrics, you look at the numbers, and you feel the risk is sufficient enough, then you make your policy decision based on that. And it’s an individual state by state, location by location determination.
Connecticut Mirror: (53:53)
Thank you sir.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (53:54)
Speaker 6: (53:56)
Connecticut Public Media.
Connecticut Public Media: (54:00)
Good afternoon. My question is for Dr. Fauci. If schools return, is it safe for fall sports to return as well? Your thoughts on that.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (54:10)
Again, it’s a little bit apples and oranges, but some similarities. It depends on the sport and it depends on what you’re talking about vis-a-vis contact versus non-contact, spectators versus non spectators. If you’re talking about, you have a low level of infection, that should you have this sport, go ahead. If you decide, you’ll have to ask the questions. The state recommendation is you don’t want crowds, particularly indoor crowds. So, should you have spectators or not? If you do, how far apart should they be? Should they wear masks? I would recommend they do. It really depends on a case by case basis on the sport itself and what the level of infection is. From what I’m seeing of the metrics in the State of Connecticut as I mentioned, you’re in a good place. But you still should abide by the rules that I had mentioned, not rule, but recommendations about the five or six things that you should adhere to. If you can do that in the context of safely doing sports, fine. If not, then you may have to suspend it.
Governor Ned Lamont: (55:28)
I think that’s it Dr. Fauci. I just want to say that when you’re hit with a pandemic, lead with the science and lead with public health and we’re fortunate to have some of the best public health minds in the country here in Connecticut, and particularly fortunate that Dr. Fauci has been leading the effort during this pandemic and previous to that as well. And as I heard you speaking, Dr. Fauci used the word humble, which I appreciate. We don’t know everything and sometimes in politics changing your mind is the worst thing, but sometimes when the facts change, you’ve got to go with it. And you’ve been able to say that. There’s also you pointed at us, not always right wrong. We have to make judgments along the way. And given your forthright nature, the judgment you brought here makes our lives a lot easier. We appreciate your spending some time here with the State of Connecticut and we’ll continue to listen to your good counsel. Thank everybody for being with us today.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: (56:28)
Thank you very much governor. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be with you. I appreciate it.