Dr. Fauci says elderly, those with underlying conditions must suspend travel and distance from public 'right now'

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Monday that the elderly and those with underlying medical issues should immediately suspend all travel plans, warning that they could have an acute reaction if exposed to the virus.

" If you look at the people who wind up getting into serious difficulty and even dying, that’s very heavily weighted toward individuals with underlying conditions, particularly the elderly," Fauci told "Fox & Friends," Monday.

"No matter where they are, right now...the people with the underlying conditions need to distance themselves from crowds, not travel, not get on long air flights and certainly not get on a cruise ship."

— Dr. Fauci, 'Fox & Friends'

"That’s the reason why we have been saying lately how important it is to protect those vulnerable people by making sure no matter where they are right now, not a month from now, but right now, the people with the underlying conditions need to distance themselves from crowds, not travel, not get on long air flights and certainly not get on a cruise ship."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted a plan recommending that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines, but the White House reportedly overruled the recommendation, The Associated Press reported.

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Fauci joined the other Trump administration officials and members of the task force assigned to combat the outbreak who have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but the White House has yet to accept the stronger guidance sought by the CDC.

"I think the number one advice Americans need to hear is pay attention – this is an evolving situation," Fauci said.

He continued, "There are things that we know and there are things that we don’t know. If you base on the things that we do know, we know that the most vulnerable people in our society right now are those people with the underlying conditions, particularly the elderly. So, you don’t have to wait for there to be infections in your community. "

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Fauci said that those who fall into the higher risk categories should "should start distancing yourself from social functions where there’s a lot of people, don’t do the kind of traveling that you might otherwise do because you — if you get infected are at higher risk."

"We know that the most vulnerable people in our society right now are those people with the underlying conditions, particularly the elderly."

— Dr. Fauci, 'Fox & Friends'

Asked what age he considers to be elderly, Fauci said the "general definition" is age 65 and higher, but "it's a really wide range," he explained.

"You might have somebody who is 70 years old that’s healthy and you may have somebody that’s 60 that’s weak and frail," Fauci said.

Fauci applauded the task force assembled by the president for their efforts to contain the outbreak, and praised the "People who have other important jobs [who are] coming together every single day to get reports and to make decisions and develop policy ... guidelines."

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"They could not be working any harder," he added. "This is a task force that’s together by phone with pre calls every day a couple of times and actual physical meeting every day and this is a group that’s very much on top of this."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.