Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the key members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the United States is still in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic and that he believes we could see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from the virus and “millions” of infections.
In the wide-ranging interview, Fauci also touched on the possibility of Federally enforced quarantines, telling host Jake Tapper that he and other advisors convinced President Donald Trump to drop the idea of forcing New Yorkers to remain in their homes under threat of force after sharing their concerns that such actions would send the wrong message about social distancing and isolation measures.
“After discussions with the President we made it clear and he agreed, it would be much better to do what’s called a strong advisory. The reason for that is you don’t want to get to the point that you’re enforcing things that would create a bigger difficulty, morale and otherwise, when you could probably accomplish the same goal,” Fauci told Tapper.
Instead, Fauci says, the president’s coronavirus task force has recommended that Americans maintain strict self-directed quarantine measures, at least until the number of cases begin to fall.
“What you don’t want is people traveling from that area to other areas of the country and inadvertently and innocently infecting other individuals,” Fauci added. “We felt the better way to do this would be an advisory as opposed to a very strict quarantine. And the President agreed, and that’s why he made that determination last night.”
Although Fauci seemed reticent to predict precisely how many Americans might die from the virus, he did say that the U.S. could see between 100,000 and 200,000 of coronavirus-related deaths and that cases of the virus could number in the millions.
“Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases… excuse me, deaths. I mean, we’re going to have millions of cases,” Fauci noted.
At present, around 2,000 Americans have died from coronavirus; the U.S. has around 124,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. Both numbers are growing steadily as states increase coronavirus testing.
President Donald Trump expressed, last week, that he believes the country can begin to “reopen” around Easter, but Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that while discussions about the possibility of loosening quarantine and isolation recommendations are ongoing, he does not anticipate lifting any restrictions until coronavirus cases are on a clear decline, hospitals are able to get enough personal protective equipment, and the 15-minute test for the virus, announced last week, is widely available.
In “my own opinion, looking at the way things are, I doubt if that would be the case,” Fauci told Tapper about the president’s plan to drop some restrictions next week. “We’re going to be talking about it, but obviously what you see me describe, it’s a little iffy there.”
“It’s going to be a matter of weeks. It’s not going to be tomorrow and it’s certainly not going to be next week,” he said.