Amid talk of reopening, Fauci warns U.S. not there yet with COVID-19

April 15, 2020

In an interview with the Associated Press, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said opening the nation on May 1 is "a bit overly optimistic."

His comments came after President Trump announced a new reopening task force, meant to help guide the country back to economic health after the national COVID-19 April 30 physical distancing campaign ends. But Fauci said, "We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we're not there yet." Fauci warned that reopening too soon will lead to clusters of infections and said he would not be surprised if there was a second peak of COVID-19 activity in the fall.

Meanwhile, governors continued to outline their plans for reopening. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said testing must be greatly expanded, to as many as 35,000 tests per week, before he would consider resuming normal economic activity. Walz called the expansion of testing his state's moonshot effort, given that the state has tested fewer than 38,000 people thus far.

Gavin Newsom, the California governor who has joined Washington and Oregon in the Western States Pact to develop a plan to reopen, said that reopening depends on six factors, including availability of widespread testing, ability to provide contact tracing, and the availability of therapeutics to use against the virus.

California is the world's fifth largest economy, and on March 19 became the first state to issue a stay-at-home order. Newsom said that California has been successful in flattening the curve, but physical distancing is still needed. To date, over 24,000 Californians have contracted COVID-19, including nearly 800 fatally.

In other news, New York remains the hardest-hit state, with over 202,000 cases and almost 11,000 deaths. New Jersey follows, with almost 70,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths.

Massachusetts has the third most cases, with more than 28,000, including deaths nearing 1,000. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said cases in his city have doubled in the past week, and hospitals are experiencing a surge of admissions. To help combat the outbreak, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced he was hiring 1,000 contact tracers to conduct interviews with anyone who has tested positive in the state and identify all contacts who may have spent 15 minutes with that person over the last several weeks.

In total, the United States has reported more than 600,000 cases and over 26,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, the most in the world in both categories.

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