On Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that prolonged lockdowns could cause “irreparable damage.”
Speaking with Meg Tirrell of CNBC on Friday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that he does not want people to get the impression he wants an indefinite lockdown until a cure arises.
Asked about the suggestion that the country open up and protect the most vulnerable, Fauci said:
Well, A, I have no disagreement we must protect the most vulnerable, and B, yes, depending upon the dynamics of the infection in the particular state, city, region, county, that you’re in, we certainly want to, in a cautious way, reopening.
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. And it’s for that reason why the guidelines are being put forth so that the states and the cities can start to reenter and reopen. So we are enthusiastic about reopening, and I think we can do it in a pace that would be reasonable and that would get us back as a society from a morale standpoint as well as the economy. I don’t want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go.
Though Fauci said that the United States had to institute strict measures initially to prevent an explosion of deaths, he conceded that certain parts of the country will have to start reopening.
“Now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, to begin to seriously look at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try to get back to some degree of normal,” he said.
Fauci cautioned states against lifting COVID-19 restrictions too early while advising governors to take “very significant precautions.”
“In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way,” he said. “There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say please proceed with caution if you’re going to do that.”
In an earlier interview with NPR on Friday, Fauci said it was “conceivable” that the United States could have a COVID-19 vaccine in November in light of the president’s “Operation Warp Speed” plan.
“We still have a long way to go obviously,” Fauci said Friday. “There are so many things that need to be done. We’re going to go quickly into a phase three trial probably in the beginning of the summer, sometime in July.”
Fauci warned the U.S. Senate last week of “needless suffering and death” if America opened too soon while suggesting schools remain closed through the fall.
“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 said. “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.”
Fauci’s comments culminated in a tense exchange with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who told Fauci that he should not be the “end-all” voice on the decision to reopen America.
“As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make the decision,” Paul told Fauci. “We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other sides saying that there’s not going to be a surge, and we can safely open the economy and the facts will bear this out.”
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