Fauci cited guidelines published by the White House on reopening, with criteria involving a downward trajectory of CCP virus cases, a decreasing number of influenza-like illnesses, and the ability to treat all patients without crisis cases.
The dynamics of an outbreak in a state, city, or region “would really determine the speed and the pace with which one does reenter or reopen,” Fauci told U.S. senators during a hearing in Washington.
“I get concerned if you have a situation where the dynamics of an outbreak in an area are such that you are not seeing the gradual, over-14-day decrease that would allow you to go to phase one, and then if you pass the checkpoints of phase one, go to phase two and phase three,” Fauci said, referencing the recommended phased reopening.
Federal officials told states that phase one should only include the reopening of some businesses and activities before broadening further in phases two and three.
“My concern is that if some areas—cities, states, what have you—jump over those various checkpoints, and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said.
The doctor, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was speaking via video link from his home in Maryland.
The consequences for not following the guidelines, Fauci said, “could be really serious,” even as many states are reopening “at an appropriate pace.”
“There is no doubt, even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases appear,” Fauci said.
“It’s the ability and capability of responding to those cases with good identification, isolation, and contact tracing [that] will determine whether you can continue to go forward as you try to reopen America. So it’s not only doing it at the appropriate time with the appropriate constraints but having the capability of responding when the inevitable return of infections occurs.”
The vast majority of states in the United States have started reopening, with some letting nearly all businesses welcome back customers.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters later in the day that President Donald Trump has also asked states to follow the federal guidelines.
“He has encouraged states to follow the guidelines; that’s still consistently our recommendation today, that you should follow the phased approach to reopening,” McEnany said.
But there are some issues with continuing to stay locked down, for example, a 1,000 percent increase in calls to a hotline dealing with substance abuse and mental health.
“There are consequences to us staying closed,” she said.