Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Sunday expressed measured optimism that parts of the country could begin relaxing stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic as early as next month.
“I think it could probably start at least in some ways maybe next month,” Fauci said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are hoping by the end of the month we can look around and say, ‘OK, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on.’ If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down.”
President Donald Trump on Friday offered perhaps his most optimistic take yet on U.S. efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus and suggested the country could begin to reopen by May 1.
“People want to get back to work. … We are setting up a council of some of the most distinguished leaders in virtually every field, including politics, business and medical. And we’ll be making that decision fairly soon,” Trump said in a Saturday interview on Fox News.
Fauci on Sunday called for a “rolling reentry” and a solution “that is not one size fits all” to prevent a potential rebound in Covid-19 cases from a premature reopening.
“It is not going to be a light switch that we say, ‘OK, it is now June, July, or whatever, click, the light switch goes back on,’” Fauci told CNN host Jake Tapper. “It’s going to be depending where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak that you already experienced, and the threat of an outbreak that you may not have experienced.”
“If you just say, ‘OK, it’s whatever, May 1, click,’ turn the switch on, obviously, if you do it in an all-or-none way, there’s an extraordinary risk of there being a rebound,” Fauci added.
Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, offered an image of what a gradual reopening could look like in a separate Sunday interview, while also cautioning that any reopening carries risk.
“There’s a lot of pressure right now from the business community on not just the administration but governors as well to start reopening the economy,” Gottlieb said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “So I think inevitably we’re going to see a slow reopening of business activities through May with some risk, but there’s always going to be risk.”
“I think you’re going to see a gradual reopening … where governors and mayors say, ‘Well, businesses can reopen, but you can only bring back 50 percent of your employees that are on any one shift.’ So you force the employers to break up the shifts. Maybe you tell people over the age of 65 to stay home a little longer,” Gottlieb added. “You tell businesses you can’t have meetings more than 10 people. You can’t have conferences. So there’ll be measures put in place to try to limit interactions at the workplace, but allow some work.”
Fauci, who was raised in a Catholic family, also offered a message of faith during the Easter Sunday interview.
“I think faith helps people through this,” he said. “People are going to write about this as a terrible affront on us as a nation to our health and to our well-being. It’s tough, and faith will take an important role.”