White House Coronavirus Expert Says Complete U.S. Shutdown ‘On The Table’

White House coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday that the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. would last for two months and that a possible shutdown similar to China and Italy is “on the table.”

“It’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better… there’s no doubt we have not peaked yet,” said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Asked if America is heading toward a complete shutdown like China and Italy, Fauci said it’s possible. “I’m not sure we’re going to get to that. I think that would be really rather dramatic, but I can tell you that all things are on the table. We just have to respond as things evolve over the days and the weeks,” he said.

Dr. Fauci said it will likely be at least another several weeks of the current mode of crisis, and said the spread of the virus could last up to two months before it levels off, as it has in China.

“It will be at least a matter of several weeks. It’s unpredictable, but if you look at historically how these things work, it will likely be anywhere from a few weeks to up to eight weeks,” he said. “I hope it’s going to be in the earlier part, two, three, four weeks, but it’s impossible to make an accurate prediction.”

Meanwhile, President Trump is set to declare a national emergency on Friday over the coronavirus outbreak, according to reports. By declaring a national emergency, Trump will invoke the Stafford Act “to open the door to more federal aid for states and municipalities, according to two people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg News reports.

“The move would allow the government to martial additional resources to combat the virus, and also marks a symbolic turning point for the president, who has repeatedly compared the coronavirus to the seasonal flu and insisted that his administration had the outbreak under control,” the news agency reported.

Senate Democrats have urged Trump to invoke the Stafford Act and other disaster declaration requests they say would free up more than $42 billion in funding for states available in the Disaster Relief Fund.

An emergency declaration would allow a state to request a 75% federal cost-share for expenses that include emergency workers, medical tests, medical supplies, vaccinations, security for medical facilities, and more, according to a letter Democrats sent the president earlier this week.

Only a few emergency declarations for public health threats have been made since the 1960s, and only two have targeted disease outbreaks, when President Bill Clinton in 2000 declared emergencies in New York and New Jersey in response to the West Nile Virus.

The president is set to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. EDT on Friday.

Dr. Fauci told congress on Thursday that the healthcare system was “failing” and that there were not enough tests. But on Friday, he said the system is getting up to speed quickly.

“Let’s look ahead, and I believe what we’re hearing at the task force that we are now getting into that phase where we’ll be able to really scale it up a lot. I think in the next week or so, you’re going to see an acceleration of availability of tests,” he said.

“Right now as I’ve mentioned many times and I’ll stick by it, early on, the way the system was designed, as good a system as it was, it was not a design to approach that broad blanket testing. We’re on our way to that now, and we’ll be able to do it relatively soon,” the doctor said.

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