Fauci predicts it will be ‘several weeks’ before social distancing guidelines can be lifted

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci told NBC’s Today show on Friday that current guidelines to stay home and avoid congregating in large groups amid the coronavirus pandemic will “likely” have to remain in place for “several” more weeks to have the intended effect of flattening the infection curve. 

“I cannot see that all of a sudden, next week or two weeks from now, it’s going to be over,” Fauci told Today on Friday, according to NBC News. “I don’t think there’s a chance of that. I think it’s going to be several weeks.”

Fauci said his prediction was based on his assessment of other parts of the world that experienced outbreaks of COVID-19 prior to the U.S. “If you look at the trajectory of the curves of outbreaks and other areas, [it’s] at least going to be several weeks,” he said, according to NBC.

Preparation is key

Fauci agreed with President Donald Trump on Friday that the Defense Production Act and other legislation like it should be invoked to help the U.S. prepare for the outbreak to worsen in the coming weeks.

“I think we should do everything we possibly can do,” he said of combating the disease, according to NBC. “I mean, in all sectors, because obviously as I’ve said so many times, when you think you’re maybe overreacting, you probably are not acting as forcefully as you should. So as we’ve always said, we’ve got to try very much to stay ahead of the curve.”

The Trump administration has asked all Americans to work from home if they are able, avoid going out when possible, and avoid groups of more than 10 people for 15 days. Fauci didn’t seem convinced on Friday that those actions would be enough to flatten the curve and avoid overwhelming hospitals and health care facilities, however.

Trump, for his part, said at a White House briefing last week that the virus outbreak could last until “July or August,” though he disputed an alleged Department of Health and Human Services finding that it could last 18 months, NBC News reported.

Testing for the virus

Fauci acknowledged in his Today interview Friday that testing for COVID-19 in the U.S. had been slow at first, but he said that in the coming days, multiple tests per person will be available.

Still, AARP reported that even though scores of drive-thru testing locations have been set up, wait times could be five to seven days for those who are tested because of the increased numbers.

Moreover, the Wall Street Journal has chronicled examples of testing centers being moved hours away from the original location and closing early when test kits run out, making it difficult for those who think they have symptoms to get the help they need.

A lack of widespread testing could also be making the death rate seem much higher than it actually is and could prolong shutdowns in many areas because of heightened fears that may end up being unjustified.

Researchers who looked at the infection and death rates on the Diamond Princess cruise ship and compared that to the general population have concluded that the most likely death rate from coronavirus is probably close to that of the flu, the Daily Wire reports.

If that is indeed the case, then the “cure” to this outbreak is sure to be much, much worse than the virus itself.

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