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Thousands of people tuned in to NBA star Stephen Curry’s Instagram live Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the coronavirus on Thursday because 2020 continues to be surreal.
That said, the live session was very helpful at a time when people across the world are grappling with a deluge of information and misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.
The Golden State Warriors star asked several pertinent questions about COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, to which Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided measured and accessible answers.
Barack Obama and Justin Bieber were among the approximately 50,000 people watching and commenting on the live chat.
Obama posted a wave emoji and later thanked Curry and Fauci, adding, “Listen to the science. Do your part and take care of each other.”
Bieber commented, “Steph the man curry,” along with a bunch of laughing-crying face emojis.
Fauci addressed the “dichotomy” of the extreme reactions to the pandemic in the US where people are either extremely frightened or don’t believe it’s happening.
“We have to get rid of the misconception that either ‘the world is going to end’ or ‘we’re not going to do anything,'” Fauci said. “It’s somewhere in the middle.”
He urged Americans not to get frightened or intimidated by the pandemic but urged them to realize “we are dealing with a serious problem.”
“We’ve got to, as a country, pull together,” Fauci said.
Curry asked Fauci about the risk of lifting social distancing restrictions too early in order to improve the economy. President Donald Trump has vowed to reopen the economy by Easter against the advice of public health experts.
Fauci said it was not “an all or none process.” He said that New York and California had locked down their cities in what was a “heavy hammer” measure.
“Even if you lessen those restrictions, everyone should still practice some degree of physical distancing and avoid big crowds,” Fauci said. “You can do that and still get back to somewhat of a normal life.”
Fauci also answered other commonly asked questions including if someone could get reinfected with COVID-19 and whether the virus is likely to die out in the warmer months. He said authorities have not done specific testing to determine whether the virus can reinfect those who have already had it.
However, he said that if the virus acts like others, then “the chances are overwhelming that if you get infected, recover from infection, then you are not going to get infected from the same virus.”
Responding to whether warmer weather would diminish the ability of the coronavirus to spread, Fauci said that it while that did happen with other viruses like seasonal influenza, “we don’t know whether this is going to happen with this virus.”
“It’s not an unreasonable assumption, but you don’t want to count on it,” Fauci said.
People on social media were grateful to Curry for using his influential platform to have a scientific discussion without a political agenda.
Public health professions appreciated that Fauci was using nontraditional platforms to provide important information to younger audiences.