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Anthony Fauci warns of ‘irreparable damage’ if lockdowns are kept in place for too long

Anthony Fauci warns of ‘irreparable damage’ if lockdowns are kept in place for too long
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a CNBC interview on Friday that extended lockdowns could cause “irreparable damage.”
  • “We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health,” Fauci said.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Senate earlier this week that there was a risk of “permanent damage” to the economy if states kept strict restrictions in place.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said on Friday that extended lockdowns could cause “irreparable” harm and worse health outcomes.

“We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health,” Fauci said in a CNBC interview.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the measures were necessary early on to curb the explosive spread of the coronavirus. But he supported states taking cautious steps to restore normality and lift stay-at-home orders.

“Now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, is to begin seriously looking at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try and get back to some degree of normal,” he said.

Fauci’s remarks echoed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s earlier this week. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Mnuchin said there was a “risk of permanent damage” if states delayed reopening their economies, The New York Times reported.

Read more: John Fedro quit his job and got involved in real estate with barely any money. He breaks down his low-cost approach to mobile-home investing, which allows him to live comfortably on passive income.

Earlier this month, Fauci said that trying to reopen the US too soon would result in “needless suffering and death” from a new wave of coronavirus infections. The virus has already killed at least 95,000 people across the country.

The number of new coronavirus infections reported in the US each day over the past week has ranged from 18,000 to 26,000, per a Times database. The Trump administration has strongly supported efforts to reopen the economy, arguing that it’s critical to send Americans back to work to mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Last month, the economy shed 20 million jobs, according to data from the Labor Department. It prompted the unemployment rate to skyrocket to 14.7%, the highest level since the Great Depression.

All 50 states are reopening in some way since wide swaths of the US started lockdowns two months ago. But Fauci said they should keep social-distancing guidelines in place to curb the spread of the virus.

“In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way,” he said on CNBC. “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.”

Read more: ‘It works for anything I look at’: BlackRock’s bond chief who oversees $2.3 trillion shares the ‘really simple’ 3-part framework that guides every investment decision he makes — and outlines 2 factors he looks for in a company

On Friday, President Donald Trump said he was designating churches, synagogues, and mosques to be “essential” and ordered governors to reopen houses of worship “right now.” However, he likely does not have clear authority to do so.

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Anthony Fauci: No reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person

Dr. Anthony Fauci said it should be safe for people to vote in person as long as they take sufficient precautions. “I think if carefully done according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” Dr. Fauci told National Geographic in an interview that aired Thursday. He…

Anthony Fauci: No reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote in person

Dr. Anthony Fauci said it should be safe for people to vote in person as long as they take sufficient precautions.

“I think if carefully done according to the guidelines, there’s no reason that I can see why that not be the case,” Dr. Fauci told National Geographic in an interview that aired Thursday.

He pointed out that grocery stores have marks intended to keep people at least six feet apart.

“You can do that,” said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “If you go and wear a mask, if you observe the physical distancing and don’t have a crowded situation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do that.”

He said people who are at higher risk or don’t want to take the chance can have a vote-by-mail option.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to vote, in person or otherwise,” he said.

Dr. Fauci’s comments came as Democrats and President Trump are locked in a stalemate over funding for the U.S. Postal Service.

Democrats had pushed for $25 billion for the post office and $3.5 billion for vote-by-mail efforts, though it appeared that negotiators had settled on $10 billion for USPS in the most recent round of negotiations.

Democrats, who have effusively praised Dr. Fauci throughout the course of the pandemic, say the additional money is necessary so people don’t have to risk their health by going to the polls in person.

Mr. Trump said Thursday that near-universal vote-by-mail isn’t going to work without that additional money, which is holding up broader negotiations on the next coronavirus relief package.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called Democrats’ $3.5 billion ask for vote-by-mail “fundamentally unserious.”

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Deborah Birx, Anthony Fauci recommend face shields

Top members of the White House coronavirus task force now say that face shields and goggles can be effective ways to combat the spread of the coronavirus — the latest shift in messaging from the federal government on the how to contain a pandemic that has now claimed more than 150,000 American lives. Dr. Deborah…

Deborah Birx, Anthony Fauci recommend face shields

Top members of the White House coronavirus task force now say that face shields and goggles can be effective ways to combat the spread of the coronavirus — the latest shift in messaging from the federal government on the how to contain a pandemic that has now claimed more than 150,000 American lives.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said masks that cover the nose and mouth are meant to protect others from infection.

“The thing about the face shields — we think that that could protect the individuals and that it would decrease the ability for them to touch their eyes and spread [the] virus as well as those droplets coming towards them,” Dr. Birx said Thursday on “Fox & Friends.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this week that if people have goggles or eye shields, they should consider using them.

“You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye,” Dr. Fauci told ABC News. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces.”

The new medical advice came as news was breaking that former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain had become the latest high-profile victim of COVID-19. A supporter of President Trump, the 74-year-old onetime pizza chain executive contracted the virus shortly after attending Mr. Trump’s Tulsa political rally last month.

The coronavirus is believed to be spread primarily through droplets that people expel when sneezing, coughing or talking, though there is some evidence of airborne spread through particles that linger in the air for a longer time.

The coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China, in December. It swiftly blanketed the globe, killing over 668,000 people and now re-emerging in many countries that had once been thought to have the virus under control.

Mr. Trump on Thursday said he, like the public, just heard about the goggles advice.

“I only heard of goggles for the first time about one hour ago. Now I’m hearing about goggles, so I don’t know,” he said during a stop at the American Red Cross national headquarters in D.C.

At the meeting, Dr. Birx said Tennessee is including a mask, face shield, gloves and hand sanitizers in special packs for teachers who go back into the classroom.

Dr. Birx, Dr. Fauci and others in the federal government are pleading with ordinary Americans to at least wear a protective mask to help combat the spread of COVID-19 amid a resurgence of cases in the South and West and — most recently — parts of the Midwest.

Message from Trump country

But in the early stages of the pandemic, the Trump administration and top health officials were actively telling people not to wear masks, saying the supplies should be saved for frontline medical workers and there wasn’t necessarily evidence that they helped people avoid contracting the disease.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who urged the public in late February to “stop buying masks,” said Mr. Trump attracted positive attention in Miami for donning one recently.

“I was in Trump country, and they told me to deliver you a message, Mr. President. They told me to tell you you look badass in a face mask,” Dr. Adams told the president on Thursday.

Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the administration’s “testing czar,” said on Thursday that testing is important but it won’t control the national outbreak when there are 70,000 new documented cases per day.

“What will control the outbreak is the personal responsibility that we have been talking about for months,” Adm. Giroir told reporters on a conference call. “Avoid bars, avoid crowded indoor spaces, wear a mask. If you feel sick, stay at home. Protect the vulnerable. Wash your hands. That’s how we control the outbreak. Period. Full stop.”

Mr. Trump also pleaded with COVID-19 survivors Thursday to donate their blood plasma.

The “convalescent” plasma contains antibodies that can help patients fight off the virus. It is part of a trinity of promising treatments that also includes an antiviral drug, remdesivir, and a steroid, dexamethasone.

“If you’ve had the virus, if you donate it would be a terrific thing,” he said at the Red Cross. “You’ve gotten through it, and I guess that means you have something very special there.”

Mr. Trump wore a mask as he visited a donor, Marty Sarsfield. Mr. Sarsfield was hooked up in a basement room and a medical bag filled with his yellow plasma next to him.

“Strong. You’re very famous right now,” Mr. Trump told him.

Elsewhere, Adm. Giroir said there have been signs of progress in some places across the hard-hit Sun Belt but cautioned that no one is declaring mission accomplished.

“No one’s declaring victory. No one’s overly enthusiastic,” he said.

Global reverses

Mr. Trump on Thursday noted that place outside of the U.S. that were praised for their efforts to stamp out the coronavirus are seeing a resurgence, underscoring its wily nature and the need to protect the vulnerable instead of shutting the economy down again.

“Places where they thought they’d really done great,” Mr. Trump said. “It came back, and in a couple of cases came back very strongly.”

He said because of this, a long-term shutdown is not a viable strategy, after the U.S. closed much of its economy in March and April — only to see the virus spike again in certain states.

“It can come rearing back when you least expect it,” Mr. Trump said. “A permanent shutdown would no longer be the answer at all.”

Mr. Trump rattled off a list of countries, such as Australia and Japan, that are seeing spikes, and mentioned blue states where governors were praised for their responses, only to see an uptick.

But critics say the U.S., which has by far the most COVID-19 cases and deaths of any country in the world, likely didn’t shut down deep enough early on or have enough surveillance through testing to get the disease to manageable levels.

However, there have been some promising announcements on vaccine candidates in recent days.

Johnson & Johnson on Thursday announced the health company was starting human trials in its top vaccine candidate after there were promising results from injections in monkeys after a single dose.

The Trump administration has partnered with several companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, on vaccine development and distribution. Those companies both announced progress this week on Phase 3 clinical trials for their vaccine candidates.

The administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” is aiming to facilitate the development of a vaccine by the end of the year.

“We’re not going to cut any corners,” a senior administration official told reporters on a separate conference call Thursday. “If these vaccines are safe and effective, then the regulatory approval process goes appropriately.”

Public and private groups are working overtime to develop a vaccine, or at least therapeutics and treatments like plasma.

The use of plasma from recovered persons to treat patients with the same illness dates back to the 1890s and confers what’s known as “passive immunity,” since the recipient doesn’t produce his or her own antibodies but uses the donor’s, according to Nigel Paneth, a distinguished professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University.

“It works best when given early. It is probably ineffective as a last resort,” he said. “Based on previous infections, ideally it should be given in the first three days of illness, though we don’t have complete data for this on COVID.”

So far, over 50,000 people have received plasma for COVID-19 in the U.S., according to an initiative coordinated by the Mayo Clinic.

Members of Congress who have tested positive for the virus and recovered have donated their plasma and urged fellow survivors to do the same.

As for face shields and eye coverings, other experts have said there could be some benefits but that there hasn’t been extensive research on the topic.

Dr. Donald Milton, a University of Maryland professor who has written extensively on the airborne spread of the virus, said eye protection for people who must have face-to-face contact with others — such as dentists and barbers — is important.

“As personal protective equipment (PPE), eye protection is less important for other people, but still can offer some added protection in addition to face masks,” Dr. Milton said.

He said face shields probably block some release of the virus into the air, but that he would not recommend using face shields as an alternative to masks.

“I also expect that they are not generally as effective at blocking release of virus into the air as are masks,” he said.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci says photo of him without a mask at baseball game is ‘mischievous’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been advising President Trump’s coronavirus task force, came under scrutiny when a photo of him surfaced at a baseball game Thursday not wearing a mask, but sitting close to two people. Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been encouraging the public to wear…

Dr. Anthony Fauci says photo of him without a mask at baseball game is ‘mischievous’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been advising President Trump’s coronavirus task force, came under scrutiny when a photo of him surfaced at a baseball game Thursday not wearing a mask, but sitting close to two people.

Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been encouraging the public to wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

He threw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ game on Thursday, but a photo of him in the stands with his wife and a friend caught the attention of some reporters. They were not socially distanced, and he had his mask pulled down.

Yasher Ali, a contributor to New York Magazine and Huffington Post, tweeted out the photo, saying the doctor should set a better example. He has since deleted his tweet.

But Dr. Fauci pushed back on the critics Friday on Fox News, saying he was dehydrated and was drinking water. He also noted he tested negative for the coronavirus hours before.

“I was drinking water trying to rehydrate myself,” Dr. Fauci said.

“I wear a mask all the time when I am outside,” he added. “If people want to make something about that they can, but to me, I think that is mischievous.”

Dr. Fauci also predicted there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year or early 2021.

He has come under scrutiny from critics that say Dr. Fauci has been wrong about the virus a number of times. At first, he said masks were not necessary and also suggested travel from China should not have been halted. Since then, he has reversed his position on both issues.

Mr. Trump has even described his adviser, Dr. Fauci, as “an alarmist.”

The president has been critical of masks, saying advisers first said they were not needed but now are saying they should be mandatory. He has since said he will wear one in public when he cannot socially distance after coming under scrutiny by the media for not setting an example for Americans.

Many localities are mandating masks be worn in public — even outside, not just indoors. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser implemented her strict mask mandate earlier this week, only allowing for minor exemptions such as children under 2 years old and people engaging in exercise outdoors.

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