Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden: Coronavirus outbreak at Arkansas church shows 'what you do affects others'

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Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden joined "Your World with Neil Cavuto" Wednesday to discuss a CDC report that detailed the spread of coronavirus among members of a church in rural Arkansas.

"We stayed home so the virus quieted down and stopped spreading widely where it was spreading widely, but it's still out there," Frieden told host Neil Cavuto. "So anytime you have a lot of people together in an indoor space and one of them is infectious, you can have a lot of cases."


"This is a very infectious virus," Frieden added, "but it isn't the end of the world."

The CDC report released Tuesday showed that two symptomatic people who later tested positive for COVID-19 attended church events in early March. At least 35 of 92 attendees at the events contracted the virus and three of them died. Twenty-six other people in the community with links to the church have also contracted the virus, with one person dying.

Frieden also voiced his frustration with the ongoing controversy about when to reopen for business.

"We were never completely closed," he said. "And unfortunately, until we have a vaccine, we're never going to be completely open. It's a level of gradations. That's why we [Resolve to Save Lives] released a report to look at a risk alert level from red, orange to yellow to green.

"We're recommending that communities and states consider this," Frieden said. "So you can advise people and they can decide for themselves what they're going to do."


Frieden warned that the Arkansas case shows that people's decisions impact others.

"But keep in mind, what you do also affects others because it is highly infectious," Frieden said. "And we think a level like this can empower people, can hold governments accountable and help us all make progress so that we can restart without rekindling the epidemic."