Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and a chief adviser on the White House coronavirus task force, has been a top proponent of the mandatory business closures and “stay-at-home” orders imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Surprisingly, Fauci changed his tune quite dramatically on Friday, saying he is “totally in favor” of reopening and warning of “irreparable damage” if lockdowns are extended.
Fauci: Can’t stay locked down forever
Dr. Fauci’s apparent about-face came during an appearance on Friday on CNBC‘s “Halftime Report” midday program, where he told host Meg Tirrell, “I don’t want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go.”
Suggesting that the initial severity of the coronavirus crisis made the lockdown orders necessary, he said. “But now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, to begin to seriously look at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try to get back to some degree of normal.”
The doctor further noted that “significant precautions” will still be needed, but said of the various re-opening efforts, “In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way.” He added, “There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say please proceed with caution if you’re going to do that.”
According to The Hill, Fauci also said that he was “totally in favor” of reopening because the country “can’t stay locked down” forever, and warned of “irreparable damage” and “unintended consequences” caused by prolonged lockdowns.
“It is for that reason why the guidelines are being put forth so that the states and the cities can start to reenter and reopen,” Fauci said.
Assuming all of the reopening guidelines and safety precautions are adhered to, he said, “I’m totally in favor of that if done in the proper way and appropriate setting.”
This abrupt change in tune from Dr. Fauci is all the more stunning when one considers that it was only a little more than a week ago when the infectious disease expert was saying something completely different.
CNBC pointed out that Fauci testified in a Senate committee hearing that “suffering and death” would inevitably occur if states reopened too soon and that his “major concern” was that the reopening efforts “would almost turn the clock back rather than going forward” in terms of containment.
On other occasions, Fauci also insinuated that most businesses and schools should remain closed for the foreseeable future and strongly suggested that it would be many months before the nation could get back to “normal.”
It is unclear exactly what has led Fauci to change his tone, but whatever it may have been, we are glad to see that he is finally on board with getting the nation rolling once again.