Dr. Fauci says drinking inside bars is one of the most dangerous things you can do right now

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, removes his face mask before testifying at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US' top infectious disease expert, said going to an indoor bar is one of the most dangerous things people can do right now.
  • A growing body of evidence shows that the coronavirus travels well between people indoors, when crowds are close together, talking loudly, and sharing the same air.
  • Outdoors is a much better place to visit with friends and family during the pandemic, and Fauci said if you "wear a mask" and "avoid the close congregation of people" it can be a safe way to "have some social interaction."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had some sharp words for America's most cavalier bar goers on Tuesday, who he said are putting others at risk of death from the coronavirus.

"Bars, really not good. really not good," the infectious disease expert said during a US Senate committee hearing on Tuesday morning. "Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really got to stop that right now."

Fauci added that he's "quite concerned" about the outbreak's concentration in four states — Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona — which together are shouldering "more than 50% of the new infections" around the country today. Advertisement

"We are now having 40-plus-thousand new cases a day, I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned," he said. "It could get very bad."

One Florida woman and 15 of her friends all tested positive for the coronavirus, after a night out at the bar in Jacksonville earlier this month. Bars in the Lansing, Michigan, area are being reduced to 50% capacity after the health department tied 107 coronavirus cases to a single brew pub there. Texas, Florida, and Arizona are re-closing all their bars statewide, after opening back up for business in May, and seeing rates of coronavirus infections soar in the weeks since.

Fauci said there's a dangerous "all or none" mindset at work, among many who are beginning to hang out with their friends again.

"By all or none, I mean either be locked down, or open up in a way where you see people at bars, not wearing masks, not avoiding crowds, not paying attention to physical distancing," Fauci said.

Going outside is a much safer way to socialize

The doctor stressed that there is a way to have much safer social interaction, by getting outside, and keeping a distance from others, which studies show is far less likely to transmit the coronavirus between people. "You can get outdoors, you can interact, wear a mask, try to avoid the close congregation of people, wash your hands often, but don't just make it all or none," Fauci said. "We've got to be able to get people to get out and enjoy themselves within the safe guidelines that we have."Advertisement

Fauci also said he's worried that "a lot of people" may "think they are invulnerable" to the virus, but that's not the case.

"We know many young people are not, because they're getting serious disease," he said.

A bartender serves a drink to a customer at a bar in Austin, Texas on May 22, 2020, the day bars in the city reopened from a coronavirus lockdown.Sergio Flores / AFP via Getty Images

Even if bar-goers don't get a serious case of the illness themselves, they can pass their coronavirus infection on to others who may not be as lucky.

"If a person gets infected, they may not be symptomatic, but they could pass it to someone else, who passes it to someone else, who then makes someone's grandmother or grandfather, sick uncle, or a leukemic child on chemotherapy, get sick and die," Fauci said.

"I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have both as individuals, and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic, that we all have to play a part in that."Advertisement