On Wednesday, Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who serves as a special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), urged the Trump administration to extend coronavirus mitigation efforts — including the barring of in-restaurant dining, religious services, and concerts — for at least another 18 months, or longer, depending on how quickly researchers can develop a vaccine or at least effective treatment.
According to Emanuel, a key architect of the Affordable Care Act a.k.a Obamacare and now an advisor to presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on the coronavirus outbreak, up to a million Americans will die from the novel coronavirus if a nationwide shutdown does not persist until there is a vaccine or effective treatment.
“If we prematurely end that physical distancing and the other measures keeping it at bay, deaths could skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands if not a million,” Emanuel said on ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast. “We cannot return to normal until there’s a vaccine.”
“Conferences, concerts, sporting events, religious services, dinner in a restaurant, none of that will resume until we find a vaccine, a treatment, or a cure,” he emphasized.
“The crisis is not going to go away in a few weeks or after the 30-day plan comes to an end. Although COVID-19 is affecting us in different ways, we have to be up to it and fight together.”
The left-wing doctor similarly told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein: “The kind of normal where we go traveling, we go to restaurants, we go to concerts, we go to religious services, we go on cruises, until we have a vaccine that protects everyone. That’s 18 months, it’s not going to be sooner.”
“Anyone who tells you we’re going to have a vaccine in three or four months, that’s just not the reality of how biology and research works,” he added.
Emanuel said economic relief efforts need to be extended out at least 18 months. “I noticed that every bailout bill seems to be … we have this bailout for small businesses, keeping people on their payroll (for) eight weeks, we have an extension of unemployment (for) 13 weeks, as if somehow at the end of three months it’s going to be magically different,” he said, according to ABC News. “This is an 18-month process.”
The pandemic is also cause for a universal healthcare push and voting by mail or internet, added the politico.
“I think we need to plan now — you’re going to have to have a different model, either voting by internet, voting by mail, voting early, so that people have a chance to go over time,” he suggested, claiming that traditional voting would be “a perfect model for Republican suppression of voting.”
“COVID-19 is a great argument for universal health care coverage that isn’t ‘hole-y’ and doesn’t allow, you know, millions of people to slip through. It is an argument for simplification of the system,” Emanuel argued.
“Sen. (Bernie) Sanders is right, we definitely need to have a universal coverage system where all 100% of people in the United States are covered,” added the physician. “Certainly the Affordable Care Act was not put in place thinking about a pandemic, I can say that categorically having been involved and also having thought about pandemics.”