Covid Live Updates: Masks, Mandates and China

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

WASHINGTON – Maybe it was just a matter of time.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, president Biden’s chief medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, has tested positive for the virus and is experiencing “mild symptoms,” the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Wednesday.

Dr. Fauci, the department’s director, was positive about a rapid antigen test, the agency said in a statement. It added that he had been completely vaccinated against the virus and had been boosted twice. He is taking Paxlovid, Pfizer antiviral therapy authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Covid-19, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

News that Dr. Fauci, one of the world’s foremost specialists in infectious diseases and a well-known name thanks to the pandemic, had fallen victim to the coronavirus, resonated throughout Washington and the country. The positive test was the first for Dr. Fauci, who is 81 years old.

But with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that more than half of Americans have received Covid-19, he is hardly the only major sufferer. Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, tested positive on Monday for the second time in less than a month. Representative Maxine Waters, an 83-year-old California Democrat, announced Tuesday that she had tested positive; she had done the same in April.

Dr. Fauci has not been in close contact with Mr. Biden or other senior officials in the past and will “isolate and continue working from his home,” the statement from his department said. He returns to the office when he has tested negative.

But he had appeared in public. The AIDS Clinical Trials Group – a network of hundreds of researchers conducting studies to improve the treatment of HIV and related infections – is meeting in Washington this week, and Dr. Fauci, whose laboratory work has focused on HIV / AIDS, spoke to the group in person. on Tuesday.

Along with other top federal health officials, Dr. Fauci was expected to testify Thursday before the Senate Health Committee about the state of the pandemic. An official said that Dr. Fauci’s institute worked with committee staff to arrange an external performance.

While much of the nation seems to be trying to move on, the coronavirus is still a pervasive threat. According to a New York Times database, more than 100,000 new cases are still identified every day in the United States – a number that has remained roughly flat during June. Many experts believe the number is a minority because so many people take home tests if the results are not registered with public health authorities.

While cases decrease in the Northeast and Midwest, cases and hospitalizations increase in the West and South. However, reports of deaths are still low. Fewer than 350 deaths are reported each day, according to The Times’ database, down from more than 2,600 a day at the height of the Omicron wave.

Dr. Fauci has spent half a century in government, advising seven presidents, beginning with Ronald Reagan, on epidemics and pandemic threats.

But the coronavirus pandemic made him a political lightning rod. His public appeal for health measures such as mask use and social distancing made him a frequent target for critics who questioned or opposed such measures.

Perhaps more than anyone else, he knows how contagious the coronavirus is. This spring, he decided not to attend the White House correspondent’s dinner – a gathering of prominent political figures and news media with the president’s appearance – “because of my individual assessment of my personal risk,” he said at the time. At the time, Dr. Fauci was preparing for other public engagements, including keynote speeches at Princeton and the University of Michigan.

The correspondent’s dinner, which drew more than 2,000 guests to a packed hotel ballroom, ended up spreading the virus among many journalists and other participants.

“It’s a matter of time before we all get infected, to be honest; This virus has become so contagious, said Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University, on Wednesday. “What I’m telling people is that at some point you will encounter this virus, because we do several things and come together. And if you come across the virus, you should get vaccinated and boosted.”

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