As he made the circuit of Sunday morning’s TV news shows, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Americans need to accept that the fight against the coronavirus has only begun, and that unpopular and unexpected restrictions may follow before the disease ebbs.
Americans looking at the next 14 days “should be prepared that they’re going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Fauci said during his “Meet the Press” appearance, according to NBC.
In all of his interviews, Fauci offered a common theme: Action was more important than inaction.
“I would prefer as much as we possibly could. I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting,” he said on NBC.
Elderly people and those with underlying conditions “should really hunker down,” he said, adding that hospitals should minimize elective surgeries during the outbreak.
“I want people to assume that I’m over- or that we are overreacting, because if it looks like you’re overreacting, you’re probably doing the right thing, because we know from China, from South Korea, from Italy, that what the virus does, it goes — percolates along and then it takes off,” he said.
“So what we’ve got to do is a couple of things, and we’re doing it. One is preventing new infections from coming in, hence the travel restriction. And the other is doing containment and mitigation within the country. And it is correct that the infections are going to go up,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure it doesn’t do the maximum peak and actually blunts. Within that blunt there will be many new infections. We want to make sure we don’t get to that really bad peak,” he said.
Fauci said the mortality rate of the disease will fall as more individuals are tested.
“The mortality will likely come down to somewhere around 1 percent or less. But even that is serious. And that’s why we’ve got to take this seriously, because if you look at the typical seasonal flu, it’s 0.1 percent,” he said.
“So this is a virus that transmits readily. It’s a virus that has a high degree of morbidity and mortality. And that’s the reason we’ve got to do all of our forces. Now, if you look at the recovery rate, the recovery rate is minus what the mortality is. So if- if the mortality is 1 percent, it’s 99 percent recovery rate. If the mortality is even less, overwhelmingly more people recover from this than get into serious trouble. There’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“But we want to make sure that we not only decrease the rate of infection, we protect the vulnerable people who are within that percentage that have a much higher degree of morbidity and mortality,” he said.
Later in the interview, about the 4:30 mark, Fauci said that limits will change with the severity of the situation.
“You don’t want to make a pronouncement that no one should ever go into a restaurant. I mean, I think that might be overkill right now, but everything is on the table. It may come to the situation where we strongly recommend.
“Right now, myself personally, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant. I just wouldn’t because I don’t want to be in a crowded place. I have an important job to do. I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m going to be all of a sudden self-isolating for 14 days,” he said.
Fauci avoided trying to give estimates of how many people would become sick or die.
“There’s a worst-case scenario. There’s a best-case scenario, and there’s something in the middle. We’re doing everything we can to not allow that worst-case scenario to happen,” he said, later adding, “I don’t think it will.”
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