‘We’re not there yet’ on key steps to reopen economy: Dr. Anthony Fauci.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said the U.S. does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation’s economy.
Fauci’s comments come as President Donald Trump and others in the administration weigh how quickly businesses can reopen and Americans can get back to work weeks after the fast-spreading coronavirus essentially halted the U.S. economy. Trump has floated the possibility of reopening some areas by May 1 and said he could announce recommendations as soon as this week. Among Fauci’s top concerns: that there will be new outbreaks in locations where social distancing has eased, but public health officials don’t yet have the capabilities to rapidly test for the virus, isolate any new cases and track down everyone that an infected person came into contact with.
The director of the National Institute of Health is set to testify in a Senate hearing on how to reopen the economy. According to an email he sent to the New York Times, he’s prepared to say that if America reopens too soon, we’ll face “needless suffering and death.” “The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” he wrote.
“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,” wrote Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The email appears to put Fauci at odds with President Donald Trump, who has encouraged states to reopen as soon as it was possible to safely do so. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to an email late Monday night about Fauci’s remarks.
Full Fauci email message to me: pic.twitter.com/yq8IAa9f8g
— Sheryl Gay Stolberg (@SherylNYT) May 12, 2020
According to ABC 7 NY, New York City still needs to see a 14-day decline in cases, a 30 percent hospital vacancy (right now it’s at 29 percent) and more testing and contact tracing. Before opening, they want to be able to quickly identify any new infections so those people can be isolated.
“I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going count,” Fauci told the AP. “Key is getting people out of circulation if they get infected, because once you start getting clusters, then you’re really in trouble.”