Bill Gates appeared on Jake Tapper’s program on CNN Sunday morning and contended that while the vaccine rollout is good news, the country is going to have to endure a longer stretch of businesses being closed because of the pandemic.
TAPPER: More than 30 million people in California are right now under brand-new stay-at-home orders, as hospitals their risk being overwhelmed. There are a lot of governors who oppose bringing back these lockdown orders and forcing businesses to close. What do you think? Do you think more states needs to consider taking that kind of drastic action and the kind of drastic action we saw when the pandemic first began? Or can there be a more nuanced approach?
GATES: Well, certainly, mask-wearing has essentially no downside. They’re not expensive. Bars and restaurants in most of the country will be closed as we go into this wave. And I think, sadly, that’s appropriate. Depending on how severe it is, the decision about schools is much more complicated, because, there, the benefits are pretty high, the amount of transmission is not the same as in restaurants and bars. So, trade-offs will have to be made. But this — the next four to six months really call on us to do our best, because we can see that this will end, and you don’t want somebody you love to be the last to die of coronavirus.
It’s remarkable how casually people declare that bars and restaurants should be or remain shut down indefinitely, when many institutions are just barely hanging on by their fingernails, enduring just about the toughest year imaginable. Southern California shut down outdoor dining, even though that is considerably safer than dining inside.
Some jurisdictions are facing the problem by asking the question, “How can we minimize the spread of COVID-19 at these locations?” and some are asking, “How can we eliminate the spread of COVID-19 at these locations?” If you shut down the restaurant, there will indeed be no spread. There will also be no customers, no orders, no paychecks, and pretty soon, no business at all.
But if anyone is going to advocate for longer lockdowns and stricter restrictions, and ask Americans to make even greater sacrifices, losing jobs, losing businesses, facing bankruptcy . . . it probably should not be the second-richest man on the planet.