Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor for the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said Wednesday that the country can overcome the coronavirus without shutting down the economy a second time.
“There seems to be a misperception that either you shut down completely and damage a lot of things, mental health, the economy, all kinds of things, or let it rip and do whatever you want,” Fauci told Politico. “There’s a stepwise fashion that you can open up the economy successfully.”
However, Americans must work together to practice “five or six fundamental public health measures,” Fauci added, including social distancing, wearing masks, and hand hygiene.
“When you have a weak link, then the whole system is unsuccessful,” Fauci said.
“You don’t have to lock down again, but everybody has got to be on board,” he continued. “I think we can get through this without having to revert back to a shutdown.”
The remarks from the nation’s top infectious disease expert come as several states have reimposed some lockdown measures amid fresh outbreaks of the coronavirus.
Last month, California ordered businesses including restaurants and salons, as well as houses of worship, to halt all indoor activities after the state saw a 20 percent rise in positive tests and an uptick in those admitted to intensive care. Texas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, West Virginia, Oregon, New Mexico, Michigan, and Louisiana have also reimposed some restrictions as their cases increased.
Fauci also admitted that hiccups and delays in testing are harming the ability to trace infections, adding that the administration plans to ramp up its rapid testing capacity in the coming weeks.
“It’s not okay. Period,” he said. “And we need to do better. And I wish we had done better.”
“We’re talking about hopefully getting many, many millions of more tests that can be done rapidly within the next month or so,” Fauci said.
He previously said he is “cautiously optimistic” that a vaccine for the coronavirus will be available to the American public by the end of the year or early 2021.
“The hallmark of all really defining responses that we have to virus diseases, if you look at the history of viral diseases, it is generally vaccines that put the nail in the coffin of these types,” Fauci said in June during testimony to Congress.