Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association in a an online video conversation.
"We should never ever be in a position of getting hit like this and have to scramble to respond again," Fauci said.
As we wait for the peak to pass, the march toward normalcy depends on lessons learned at the beginning of this pandemic. Fauci warns how we interact in public will not likely return to how it was before. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the spread of COVID-19 at extended family gatherings. Researchers found one relative with mild symptoms infected 15 others. Three people died -- a stark reminder of the importance of physical distancing and facial coverings.
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"If you do not know you are infected, wearing a mask will go a long way to prevent you from infecting somebody else," Fauci said.
A second CDC study reveals which age groups ended up in the hospital during the month of March. The largest number of people hospitalized were those over the age of 50.
Fauci said what happens in during the fall months will be the most critical. Figuring out who is immune to COVID-19 will be a key factor in who returns first to the workforce.
"If we get infected in February and March and recover," Fauci said. "That next September and October, the person that's infected I believe is going to be protected."
He said COVID-19 is not going to disappear, so the way forward depends on individuals' behavior.
"Don't ever shake hands again. I mean, it sounds crazy," Fauci said. "But that's the way it's got to be until we get to the point that we know the population is protected."
Ultimately the answer will be a vaccine, Fauci said. He also suggested it may be a good idea to continue wearing non-medical face coverings in public even when the stay at home orders are lifted.
In an exclusive Eyewitness New poll, conducted by Survey USA, on how people think Fauci is handling the coronavirus crisis: 38% responded that they approve of his handling of the pandemic, with 34% saying they "strongly approve." 8% responded that they disapproved, 5% strongly disapproved and 15% responded that they were "not sure."