Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the United States does not need another lockdown to contain COVID-19, provided that Americans embrace “five or six fundamental public health measures.”
Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told Politico’s “Pulse Check” podcast on Wednesday that he thinks “we can get through this without having to revert back to a shutdown,” but only if everyone follows such basics as wearing masks, social distancing, and thorough hygiene.
“You don’t have to lock down again, but everybody has got to be on board for doing these five or six fundamental public health measures,” he said.
In its guidance on preventing COVID-19 infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists six measures to stay healthy and stem the spread of the potentially deadly bug: hand-washing, avoiding close contact with other people, covering the nose and mouth when around others, always covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and then immediately after washing or sanitizing one’s hands, daily cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and monitoring one’s health daily.
“When you have a weak link, then the whole system is unsuccessful,” Fauci said, insisting that only a concerted effort would make it possible to pick a path through the pandemic that avoids extremes.
“There seems to be a misperception that either you shut down completely and damage a lot of things, mental health, the economy, all kinds of things, or let it rip and do whatever you want,” Fauci said, adding, “There’s a stepwise fashion that you can open up the economy successfully.”
Reinforcing Fauci’s view that it’s possible to find a middle ground and contain the outbreak while moving to reopen, top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told Fox News recently that he doesn’t think any form of lockdown is a good idea. Instead, people should rely on precautions such as social distancing, mask-wearing, and sanitizing to stem the outbreak, while letting businesses and schools open.
“This idea of more lockdowns, people just throw this out willy-nilly, forgetting the enormous human cost as well as the enormous economic cost,” Kudlow said. “The country can’t take that.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at a briefing on August 4 that the administration wasn’t considering a lockdown.
“The president is not considering a national lockdown,” she said. “What he is encouraging is mitigation efforts like wearing a mask, which is patriotic, like social distancing, and engaging in these really commonsense, safe measures to safely reopen and avoid the health consequences of a lockdown.”
McEnany cited a series of negative outcomes that she linked to lockdowns, including a surge in drug overdoses and suicides.
It comes after a top Federal Reserve official said in an interview on Aug. 2 that the U.S. economy could benefit if the nation were to “lock down really hard” for 4 to 6 weeks.
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that only if the virus is brought under control will America’s economy be able to mount a robust recovery.
“If we don’t do that, and we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies,” Kashkari said. “That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us.”
America’s economy, in the second quarter of this year, suffered its biggest blow since the Great Depression.
Kudlow said if common-sense health precautions combined with business and school reopening can “get America moving again,” that a sharp, V-shaped economic recovery is possible.
“You’ll get your 20 percent,” he said of recent predictions for economic growth in the third quarter, adding, “the V-shaped recovery, I think, is still in place.”