As more than a dozen states begin to reopen after a month or more under stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that rushing to lift restrictions could cause a resurgence of cases.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and lead health expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, cautioned governors against “leapfrogging” ahead to reopening without making sure that proper safety measures — such as widespread testing, available hospital beds and sufficient personal protective equipment for workers — are in place.
“Obviously you could get away with that, but you’re making a really significant risk,” Fauci said on CNN Thursday night.
Fauci said that if states relax their restrictions too soon — especially those still seeing a significant number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — the virus will just continue to circulate.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that when you pull back mitigation, you’re going to start seeing cases crop up here and there,” he said. “If you’re not able to handle them, you’re going to see another peak, a spike, and then you almost have to turn the clock back to go back to mitigation.”
Fauci said that state legislators need to use the White House guidelines for reopening, which they published on April 16.
“If you follow the guidelines, there’s a continuity that’s safe, that’s prudent and that’s careful,” he said.
“I keep trying to articulate to the public and to the leaders, ‘Take a look at the guidelines,’ ” Fauci continued. “They don’t tell you because you’ve reached the end of the 30-day mitigation period that, all of a sudden, you switch a light on and you just go for it. That’s not the way to do it. Each state, each city, each region is going to be a little different.”
Of the states that have reopened in some capacity, Fauci said that some are following the guidelines and “others are taking a bit of a chance,” without naming specific ones.
“I hope they can actually handle any rebound that they see,” he said.
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