Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is urging attendees of all large events — including President Donald Trump’s campaign rallies and political protests — to be aware of the continued risks associated with such gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a Friday interview on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast, Fauci told Jonathan Karl that any large group remains “risky” and “a danger” at this time — and added that it would be safer if Americans avoided all big gatherings, period.
Asked specifically if his concerns applied to Trump rallies, which are slated to resume next week, Fauci replied in the affirmative. “I am consistent,” he said. “I stick by what I say.”
Despite the risks, Fauci acknowledged the desire people have to engage in the political process. He stressed, however, that those who insist on attending Trump’s rallies or any protests should take the necessary precautions to mitigate the risks of spreading or contracting COVID-19.
Fauci said people should remember always to “wear a mask whenever you’re outside.”
“When you start to chant and shout, even though the instinct is to pull the mask down, which you see. Don’t do that, because there is a risk there, and it’s a real risk,” he added.
Trump is planning a massive rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19, a day recognized as the end of slavery in the United States. The president’s campaign has asked rallygoers to agree that they will attend the event at their own risk.
In a legal disclaimer included in the event registration page, registrants are warned that catching the virus is “an inherent risk” of attending the rally, and they are asked to agree not to sue the president and others involved in the event they contract the disease.
Karl said on his podcast that some precautionary health measures may be put in place for Trump’s Tulsa rally, which will be held in an arena with a capacity of 19,000 guests. They include providing hand sanitizer on-site and checking attendees’ temperatures. Karl added that masks are expected to be handed out to attendees, though they won’t be required to wear them.
Fauci has repeatedly warned of the ongoing threat of the coronavirus, which he’s described as his “worst nightmare” come to life.
Fauci told a biotechnology conference earlier this week that the pandemic “isn’t over yet.”
“Oh my goodness. Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of really understanding,” he said.