Dr. Anthony Fauci advised states with rising numbers of coronavirus cases to “seriously look at shutting down”. Fauci made his comments in a podcast interview with the Wall Street Journal by Kate Linebaugh on Wednesday.
Fauci is a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and has served since 1984 as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.
Cases have sharply risen across the South from Florida to Texas and the West in Arizona and California in recent weeks even as the mortality rate has fallen. With the daily new case count hitting 60,000, Fauci warned last week the nation could see 100,000 new cases per day.
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Fauci recommended the following to bring the curve down, “We have gotta just tighten things up. Close the bars. Indoor restaurants, either no or make it such that there’s very good seating. Make sure people wear masks. Make sure they don’t congregate in crowds. Make sure they keep their distance. If you do those simple public health measures, guarantee you’re gonna see that curve come down. It’s happened time and again in virtually every country that’s done that. At the same time, one extra thing if I might add. A lesson to the other cities and states, that when you open and re-open take a really good look at the guidelines. And in your quest to get things open quickly don’t jump over the guide posts, don’t jump over the checkpoints. Do it in a measured way, the way the guidelines delineate. If you do that the chances of getting a surge are much much less than if you just jump over things. So it’s take care of and control what’s surging now in the southern states. And the other states, be mindful of what happens when you open up and throw caution to the wind, cuz it could happen to you.”
After criticizing states for opening too soon, Fauci declined to name which states he was talking about. Fauci also observed that states that followed the guidelines had people crowded into bars without wearing masks that contributed to the new surge. Fauci noted he did not want to get in the position of “blaming people” because it gets off the message of, “what are you gonna do about it to correct it?”
On what states with rising cases should do, Fauci said, “I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down. It’s not for me to say because each state is different. New York did, what, you know, I was in multiple conversations with Governor Cuomo and with Mayor de Blasio and those are the things that we discussed. They did it and it worked. It worked for them.”
Fauci also credited human behavior for the rise in cases for people with a mindset to ‘let it rip’ after being cooped up in the lockdowns and not caring if they get infected but who end up spreading the virus to others.
Fauci also said the blanket lockdowns may have been a mistake for states that did not have a surge in March and April, saying perhaps the lockdowns could have been done “more surgically.”
Fauci blamed states (again without naming them) for opening too early and too quickly for the rise in cases.
“I mean obviously, it’s a mixed bag. I mean there are a lot of things that are going on in the states. Some states, you know it gets frustrating. Because, not to name any states but some states admittedly opened up too early and too quickly. So that was something that probably should not have happened that led to this. I’ve seen examples of other states that have actually officially done it correctly and provided the right leadership. But the human behavior and the need and the urge to just open up quickly has almost over-rided some of the recommendations of the leaders. So it’s a mixed bag. I mean obviously you’d like to see a consistent message all along that people understand. But for better or worse unfortunately that’s not exactly what’s going on.”
At the end of the interview, Fauci gave his “core type of guidelines” for slowing the spread of the virus: “Physical distance, washing of hands, wearing of masks, outdoors better than indoors. To the extent that you can do that, do it. If you can’t, try as best as you can to be creative enough to maintain the safety of the people that you’re dealing with.”
When asked what his ‘message at the moment’ is, Fauci said, “We gotta our arms around this. We’ve gotta be stringent. We gotta re-look at what’s going on. And we’re seeing that. We’re seeing now the governors and the mayors, uh, of these states and cities really now leaning in to try and get control of this. Hopefully we will and when we do, that could be a good lesson of going forward. Remember we all still want to proceed to re-opening. We all want to make sure that the children get back to school because of the negative consequences of not getting them back to school–so we gotta keep our eye on that.”
Fauci comments transcribed by TGP.
Link to the Wall Street Journal podcast interview with Dr. Fauci.
UPDATE: Speaking at an event Thursday hosted by The Hill and sponsored by Biosimilars Forum, Fauci softened his view on another round of lockdowns (excerpt):
…”I would think we need to get the states pausing in their opening process, looking at what did not work well and try to mitigate that,” Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told The Hill’s Steve Clemons. “I don’t think we need to go back to an extreme of shutting down.”
Fauci struck a different note than he did a day earlier in an interview with The Wall Street Journal when he said states should consider shutdowns.
“I think any state that is having a serious problem, that state should seriously look at shutting down,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not for me to say because each state is different.”
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On Thursday, though, he softened his remarks, saying, “I would hope we don’t have to resort to shutdown.”
He added that shutdowns “would not be viewed very favorably.”…