In his first media appearance since undergoing vocal cord surgery, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday that colleges and universities should not send students home in the event of an outbreak.
"It's the worst thing you could do," Fauci said in an interview with NBC, adding that sending students home could allow the virus to spread in new areas.
Instead, Fauci suggested the colleges keep students isolated on campus for a period of time before sending them home.
"Keep them at the university at a place that's sequestered enough from the other students, but don't have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state," Fauci said.
Fauci's comments come as several major colleges and universities struggle with COVID-19 outbreaks after opening for in-person classes. Last month, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sent some students home after more than 100 students tested positive for COVID-19.
Fauci also said he's still optimistic that a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the end of 2020, adding that he would ensure that any candidate that receives the designation would be safe and effective.
"I would not be comfortable with a vaccine unless it was shown in a clinical trial clearly to be safe and effective," Fauci said. "I've been through a number of vaccine trials in which EUAs had ultimately been done. But they were done when there was enough data where you would really feel comfortable that it was safe and effective for the American public."
Fauci also urged the public to wear masks and continue to social distance during the upcoming weekend, noting that cases throughout the country spiked following Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
"You don't want to be someone who his propagating the outbreak," Fauci said. "You want to be part of the solution, not the problem."
He later added that it was important to put a "full-court press" on the virus over the holiday weekend in the hopes of limiting the spread of COVID-19 as flu season begins.
Fauci's appearance on the Today Show was his first since undergoing surgery on Aug. 20 to remove a polyp from his vocal cords. At the time of his surgery, reports indicated that doctors suggested Fauci refrain from speaking "for a while."