• Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious-disease expert, said on Tuesday that going to an indoor bar is one of the most dangerous things people could do right now.
  • A growing body of evidence indicates that the coronavirus travels well between people indoors, when people are close together, talking loudly, and sharing air.
  • It’s much better to visit with friends and family outdoors during the pandemic – Fauci said that if you wear a mask and “avoid the close congregation of people,” it could be a safe way to have some social interaction.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had some sharp words on Tuesday for America’s most cavalier bargoers, who he said were 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. “Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really got to stop that right now.”

Fauci added that he was “quite concerned” about outbreaks in four states – Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona – that together are shouldering “more than 50% of the new infections” in the country today.

“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.”

Earlier this month, a woman in Florida and 15 of her friends all tested positive for the coronavirus after a night out at a bar in Jacksonville. On Monday, bars around Lansing, Michigan, were ordered to operate at 50% capacity after the health department linked 107 coronavirus cases to a bar there.

Texas, Florida, and Arizona have closed their bars after allowing them to reopen for business in May and seeing rates of coronavirus infections soar in the weeks since.

Fauci said there was a dangerous “all or none” mindset among many people who are beginning to hang out with their friends again.

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“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 getting outside and keeping a distance from others is a much safer social interaction. Studies have indicated that people are far less likely to transmit the coronavirus to others at outdoor gatherings.

“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.”

Fauci also said he was worried that “a lot of people” might incorrectly “think they are invulnerable” to the virus.

“We know many young people are not, because they’re getting serious disease,” he said.

texas bars coronavirus

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

Even if the bargoers themselves don’t get a serious case of COVID-19, they could pass the virus 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,” he said.