One of the top health experts on the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force is changing his tune after weeks of recommending that the country remain locked down for as long as possible to ‘bend’ the coronavirus pandemic curve.
In an interview with CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there could be “irreparable damage” if lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic went on too long.
Fauci began the segment by saying he’s always believed that states should emerge from coronavirus shutdowns when they can do so safely and still protect the most vulnerable populations.
“We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health,” Fauci explained.
“We are enthusiastic about reopening. I think we can do it in pace that would be reasonable and would get us back as a society from a morale standpoint as well as the economy,” he added.
“I don’t want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for prolonged period of time is the way to go,” Fauci — the country’s top government immunologist — said.
“We had to do that when we had the explosion of cases, but now is the time depending upon where you are and what your situation is, to look at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try to get back to some degree of normal. I’m totally in favor of that if it’s done in the proper way in the appropriate setting.”
Fauci said he still had some concerns that certain regions of the country might bypass safe-reopening benchmarks, which would cause an unmanageable spike in coronavirus cases. However, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
JP Morgan notes in a study that coronavirus cases are dropping in states that have reopened.
“In the absence of conclusive data, these lockdowns were justified initially.” But “millions of lives were being destroyed .. with little consideration that [lockdowns] might not only cause economic devastation but potentially more deaths than COVID-19 itself,” JP Morgan noted further.
As for Fauci, he said in early April that lockdowns should continue until there are no “new cases.”
“I think if we get to the part of the curve that Dr. Birx showed yesterday when it goes down to essentially no new cases, no new deaths at a period of time. I think it makes sense that you will have to relax social distancing,” he said.
Also, earlier this month Fauci said prematurely lifting shutdowns would cause “needless suffering and death,” suggesting that they should continue.
“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal,” he wrote in a May 11 email to The New York Times.