Some of the U.S.’s top health leaders are in coronavirus quarantine, including its leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a worrying sign that the virus is managing to spread between the people in charge of making highly important decisions about the pandemic.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are all quarantining after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.
Not all are undergoing the same type of quarantine, however. Per CNN, Fauci said he is carrying out a “modified quarantine” after making “low risk” contact, i.e. not in close proximity, with a White House staffer who tested positive. He will work from home and wear a mask “continually” for 14 days. Fauci said he might go to his office at the National Institutes of Health where he is the only one there. In addition, he will be tested for the virus every day.
Fauci said that if he is called to the White House or Capitol Hill, he will go while taking every precaution. Fauci, Hahn and Redfield are all expected to testify at a Senate coronavirus hearing next week. Hahn and Redfield will be testifying remotely.
Meanwhile, Hahn is doing a “full quarantine” after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive. Redfield will “self-quarantine” for two weeks after being exposed to a person at the White House who tested positive.
The CDC recommends people that have recently had close contact with a person diagnosed with covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, quarantine for 14 days after their last exposure. People in quarantine are advised to take their temperatures twice a day and watch for symptoms of covid-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, or others.
Fauci, Redfield and Hahn are all members of the White House coronavirus task force.
It is not clear who Fauci, Redfield and Hahn were exposed to. Nonetheless, on Friday, it was confirmed that Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, had tested positive for the virus. CNN reports that Miller is often in White House coronavirus task force meetings.
The news about a U.S.’s top health experts in quarantine is, in a way, a stark warning that we are still in the middle of a pandemic, even as some states weigh opening up again. The danger is not over yet, and we must proceed with caution. As of Sunday, there were 1.3 million confirmed cases of covid-19 in the U.S. and more than 79,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.