In an interview with NBC’s “Today” show Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci seemed to assert Americans should be prepared to follow current lockdown and social distancing models until the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Additionally, the good doctor described the current destruction of the American economy as merely “inconvenient.”
“I know its difficult but we’re having a lot of suffering — a lot of death. This is inconvenient from an economic and a personal standpoint, but we just have to do it,” Fauci told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases added he thinks Americans staying put at home is “our major weapon against this virus right now. We don’t have a vaccine that’s deployable. This is the only thing we have.”
“This is inconvenient from an economic and a personal standpoint, but we just have to do it. (A national stay-at-home order) is our major weapon against this virus right now. We don’t have a vaccine that’s deployable. This is the only thing we have.” -Dr. Anthony Fauci pic.twitter.com/EdUv1ucqLn
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 2, 2020
The problem with Fauci’s rationale is it appears a vaccine for the disease is at least a year away — and for Americans wondering where their meals might come from in the months ahead, it is far more than “inconvenient.”
ABC News reported that a vaccine might not be available until some time in 2022, with other vaccine trials shooting for a May 2021 release date.
That’s an absurd amount of time to ask people to sacrifice their jobs, their property, their businesses and even their lives in some cases.
At what point is the current coronavirus antidote of locking down entire communities going to harm the country more than the disease itself?
Are Americans going to be asked to hide from the sun in perpetuity as everything they have worked hard for goes out the window?
President Donald Trump said it best on March 23, when he told reporters there is a way to protect both lives and the economy.
“We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem,” he said, according to a White House transcript of his remarks.
“We have to open our country because that causes problems that, in my opinion, could be far bigger problems,” Trump added.
While the president has still continued to heed the advice of the country’s top health experts, as a natural leader, he knows full well the repercussions of a continued economic shutdown.
More than 10 million people have already applied for unemployment benefits since the end of March. Those numbers aren’t expected to decline, as some economists are predicting the country could lose tens of millions more jobs, Politico reported.
While most Americans are doing their best to stay home and limit their interactions with others — if not completely isolate themselves from the outside world — how long is that behavior going to be practical?
Not to discredit Dr. Fauci’s expertise on infectious diseases, but his recommended response to the virus seems to be to plunge the United States into an economic collapse on par with the Great Depression.
In some capacity, it has been inspiring to see Americans adjust their routines — if not their entire lifestyles — in order to follow advice from health experts on how to save as many lives as possible.
But the raw numbers coming in reveal the economic damage being wreaked by nationwide shutdowns, and it goes far beyond “inconvenient.”
At some point we have to ask where the line is, and how many people’s lives must be sacrificed before our response ends up being worse than the virus.
Trump was excoriated in the media for suggesting economic depression can lead to high mortality rates from other issues, such as suicides.
“People get tremendous anxiety and depression, and you have suicides over things like this when you have terrible economies. You have death. Probably and — I mean, definitely — would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about with regard to the virus,” Trump said.
A “fact check” by The Associated Press immediately challenged the president’s remarks, claiming, “There’s no evidence that suicides will rise dramatically if nationwide social-distancing guidelines that have closed many businesses and are expected to trigger a spike in unemployment stay in place.”
But the AP is wrong, according to numerous studies linking unemployment rates with suicide.
During the first year of the Great Depression, the U.S. suicide rate increased dramatically.
Additionally, researchers from the University of Oxford found more than 10,000 “economic suicides” associated with the Great Recession in the U.S., Canada and Europe from 2008 to 2010, Forbes reported.
Even the far-left Washington Post reported in 2015 that “suicide rates rise and fall with the economy.”
As the country potentially prepares to commit economic suicide brought on by extreme social distancing guidelines, there are also mental health and substance abuse issues to consider.
CNN reported 17 percent of unemployed Americans self-reported being dependent on illicit drugs and alcohol in 2015.
Like so many other Americans, I have tried to be a good citizen. I kept my children home a week before my state closed schools. I stay home with them and have gotten quite familiar with the squirrels that live outside my window.
My only question: How long is this sustainable? What about the folks dependent on their careers and going to work to make ends meet?
Like many Americans, the potential of the coronavirus fills me with uncertainty. It breaks my heart to see more of our beloved citizens succumb to this foreign virus each and every day. But Americans are not, nor ever have we ever been, a people led by fear.
A man in Los Angeles was arrested this week for paddleboarding — alone — according to the Los Angeles Times.
A pastor in Florida was arrested Monday for holding church services after he went the extra mile to keep his congregation safe.
This is the United States of America. We have always been willing to sacrifice, when necessary. Still, our patience with medical experts and their ever-changing data models cannot be infinite.
We must decide if we are willing to become a people who allow threats toward our civil liberties to go on in perpetuity.
The solution to our problem does not have to be binary, however inconvenient that might be for Dr. Fauci.
We should give our leaders in Washington the benefit of the doubt by following these extended lockdown measures through April, but we must find the middle ground at some point, and we’d better find it quickly.
At some point, our economy must come roaring back before we all risk becoming casualties of another historic depression.
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