'It's not smart!' Fauci slams images of maskless fans packed into college football stadiums in the midst of a COVID surge

Dr. Fauci reacted to images of packed college football stadiums filled with mostly maskless fans, saying 'its not smart' as the delta variant continues to drive the current COVID surge. 

Following the start of college football season last weekend, images of stadiums across the country-some with the capacity for over 100,000 fans-showed a mostly mask less crowd gathered to cheer on their favorite teams. 

While every state has their own vaccination and mask mandate, the Chief Medical Advisor to President Biden condemned the massive gatherings while COVID cases are on the rise due to the highly transmissible delta variant. 

Dr. Fauci condemned the massive gatherings while COVID cases are on the rise due to the highly transmissible delta variant 'I don't think it's smart,' he said

Dr. Fauci condemned the massive gatherings while COVID cases are on the rise due to the highly transmissible delta variant 'I don't think it's smart,' he said

Following the start of college football season last weekend, images of stadiums across the country showed a mostly mask less crowd gathered to cheer on their favorite teams

 Following the start of college football season last weekend, images of stadiums across the country showed a mostly mask less crowd gathered to cheer on their favorite teams

The packed stadiums come as the Indian Delta variant continues to fuel a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide, particularly in the South

The packed stadiums come as the Indian Delta variant continues to fuel a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide, particularly in the South

'I don't think it's smart,' Dr. Fauci told CNN's Jim Sciutto on Tuesday of the huge crowds. 'Outdoors is always better than indoors, but even when you have such a congregate setting of people close together – you should be vaccinated.'

'And when you do have congregate settings, particularly indoors, you should be wearing a mask,' he added.       

The packed stadiums come as the Indian Delta variant continues to fuel a surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths nationwide, particularly in the South, where tens of thousands of rabid college football fans came out to cheer on their heroes this weekend.    

Fans in many stadiums - including the Swamp in Gainesville, Florida, home to the Florida Gators - were packed shoulder-to-shoulder with no masks this weekend. 

State laws also meant attendees were not required to show proof of vaccination despite  Florida currently going through its deadliest wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Fauci says the kind of behavior being exhibited by college football fans can set back progress made against COVID and will lead to stronger mandates. 

'We could be stuck in outbreak mode and that's why I think what you're going to be seeing is…a lot more local mandates,' Fauci said. 

'There are gonna be organizations, there are gonna be universities, there are gonna be colleges, there are gonna be sports events, travel events, where the rule is going to be if you wanna participate – you get vaccinated,' Fauci added. 'If not – sorry, you're not going to be able to do it.'

Fauci is joining other public health experts who warned that now was not the time to get back to pre-pandemic business as usual.

Public health officials say that while they can understand the desire among sports fans to attend games, now is not the time.

'I am a die-hard sports fan,' said Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, told Kaiser Health News.

'But I would not go to these events right now.'

On Friday, the national seven-day rolling average of daily new cases was nearly 163,000, an increase of more than 300 percent from Labor Day weekend 2020, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

Hospitalizations also doubled, and deaths were up 80 percent from last Labor Day.

The figures came despite 62 percent of the total US population now having received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine. Fifty-three percent of the population is fully vaccinated, the CDC says.

Vaccination does appear to be reducing deaths among the most vulnerable, however, with deaths and hospitalizations rising at a slower rate than overall cases.

All three measures remain well below their US peak in early January, and there are signs that the latest wave might be cresting, with the CDC estimating that more than 80 percent of the population now has immunity either through recovering from infection or getting vaccinated.

Hospitals have been overflowing with COVID-19 patients, prompting public health officials to plead with those who are unvaccinated to get the shot.

Experts warn that even among the vaccinated there has been an increase in breakthrough infections.

While the vaccine has prevented severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, it does not prevent those who are infected from transmitting the coronavirus to unvaccinated, thus putting them at risk.

Football fans are usually outdoors, which mitigates risk. But sitting within a few feet of screaming spectators still increases the odds of transmission, according to epidemiologists.

'A packed football stadium now is not a good idea,' Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, a professor of medicine and public health sciences at the University of Miami's medical school, told KHN.

'When there's a lot of shouting and yelling' without masks, 'it means they're spraying the virus.'