Back in April, Dr. Anthony Fauci participated in a private Zoom call to discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with several celebrities — including Kim Kardashian West, who organized the virtual conversation.
In a new interview with CNN, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said that the call included 36 celebrities, musicians and athletes, including Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry, 2 Chainz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brad Falchuk and more.
According to the outlet, who cited sources, Kardashian West, 40, arranged the call after Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams pleaded for social media influencers, including Kardashian West's sister Kylie Jenner, to use their platforms to get teens and millennials to understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
"It was a whole bunch of movie stars and some sports figures and they wanted to know about what they could do to stay safe, about wearing masks and avoiding crowds," Fauci, 79, told CNN. "I was impressed by the questions they asked, by their level of sophistication."
Speaking about the Zoom call, which lasted about an hour, Fauci said the participating celebrities have "megaphones" and "could get the word out about staying safe."
"Each of them has enormous numbers of followers on their social media accounts," he told CNN. "I could say to them, for example, it's important to wear a mask, and they get on their accounts and say 'wear a mask' and it goes out to an additional couple of million people."
Also in August, Fauci spoke with Matthew McConaughey for 40 minutes on Instagram Live to discuss COVID-19 and the global health crisis.
As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly across the U.S at record-high numbers, Fauci recently warned that the country is “in for a whole lot of hurt."
"It’s not a good situation,” Fauci told the Washington Post earlier this month. “All the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors. You could not possibly be positioned more poorly.”
Although Fauci said that hospitals are now “much better prepared” and have a better understanding of how to treat COVID-19 patients and avoid the high rate of deaths from April and May, he is still concerned about the current spikes in rural areas with smaller hospitals.
“It’s much more about some of the states like Utah, Nevada, South Dakota, North Dakota, where … they never had a pretty good reserve of intensive care beds and things like that. I hope they’ll be okay, but it’s still a risk that, as you get more surging, they’re going to run out of capacity,” Fauci said.
As of Nov. 8, there are at least 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., while at least 237,800 people have died from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to The New York Times coronavirus database.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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