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Dr. Anthony Fauci to Steph Curry on the coronavirus: 'This is serious business'

The Mercury News — By Wes Goldberg The Mercury News

March 26-- During an online conversation with Warriors star Stephen Curry on Thursday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading expert on the coronavirus pandemic, made it clear: "This is serious business."

Nearly 50,000 people tuned into Curry's Instagram as the Warriors star and Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had a 30-minute conversation covering topics from the importance of social distancing, the development of tests and a vaccine and how to prevent future pandemics.

"One of the reasons why I wanted to have this Q&A, is to hopefully reach different demographics and people who are interested in the facts," Curry told Fauci during the Instagram Live broadcast.

According to The Washington Post, as of Thursday, the coronavirus has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States. While California has issued a shelter-in-place ordinance, Curry was prompted by seeing pictures of people at crowded beaches and parks to communicate the seriousness of the crisis to a younger audience through social media.

At one point during the conversation-which was viewed by several celebrities such as President Barack Obama, Justin Bieber and Andre Iguodala-Curry asked, "What's the biggest piece of information that has been out there?"

"I want people to realize how serious this is," Fauci said. "It's not convenient to be locked inside... it's not convenient for you to not play basketball."

During the conversation, Curry mentioned his own health scare when, earlier this month, he missed two games with flu-like symptoms. At the time, the coronavirus pandemic was beginning to spread and the NBA season had yet to halt indefinitely.

For the first time, Curry acknowledged he was indeed tested for COVID-19, which would make him the first known NBA player to be tested for the novel virus.

"I had flu-like symptoms about two days before the NBA shut down and I got a test pretty much right away," Curry said. "And I know there's a conversation right now about the overall accessibility of tests."

Fauci responded: "That's been a real issue early on. Several weeks ago we were not in a place we wanted to be or needed to be.

"Right now there are literally hundreds of thousands of tests out there, mostly because we got the private sector involved."

As corporations such as Target, Walgreen, Walmart and others help set up testing sites throughout the country and commercial businesses help create more tests, Fauci still urges people to first call a healthcare provider if they are experiencing symptoms. "Don't go to an emergency room because you might be affecting others."

Though social distancing and the development of tests and masks are important to supporting healthcare providers and those who are infected, Fauci is hopeful that a vaccine will be available by next flu season.

"If we really push, we hope we will know by the time we get to next winter whether or not we have something that works," Fauci said. "Vaccines are going to be important for next time around, not for what we're dealing with now."

This unprecedented pandemic has put the sports world on pause. After the NBA announced an indefinite hiatus two weeks ago, other organizations followed suit-including the NCAA, which canceled it's March Madness tournament, and the Olympics, which postponed the Tokyo Games until next year.

Increasingly, people around the country are being forced indoors as non-essential businesses and services close. The messages shared with those watching Curry's broadcast, according to Fauci, could prevent the need for future lockdowns.

"We can avoid that," Fauci told Curry in a conversation between leaders in the medical and sports world. "It would be much different than what we're doing right now."

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