The Slatest

Fauci: Americans Are “Going to Have to Hunker Down Significantly More” in Coronavirus Fight

People wearing masks are seen as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 14, 2020 in New York City.
People wearing masks are seen as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 14, 2020 in New York City.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

The country’s top infectious disease expert went on all five major Sunday morning talk shows to warn Americans about the continuing danger of the coronavirus pandemic and encourage everyone to take social distancing seriously. Americans as a whole “should be prepared that they’re going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing” in order to stop the spread of covid-19, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

Fauci did not rule out supporting a national lockdown as several European countries have done while he criticized those who continued to go out over the weekend despite the warnings that everyone should stay home as much as possible. “I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and in bars. Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see,” Fauci replied when CNN’s Brianna Keilar whether he would “like to see a national lockdown.” He also warned that there seems to be a mistaken belief among younger people that covid-19 can’t affect them, but that is mistaken. Younger people “are not immune or safe from getting seriously ill” and they can also be “a vector or a carrier.”

Speaking on NBC, Fauci said that he thinks authorities “should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for over-reacting.” Now that the new virus is already spreading in the country, the goal needs to be to “blunt” the curve of cases to prevent the hospital system from becoming overwhelmed. “Our job is to make sure it doesn’t do the maximum peak and actually blunts,” he said. “Within that blunt there will be many new infections. We want to make sure we don’t get to that really bad peak in Americans.”

Americans also shouldn’t expect this new normal to end sometime in the near future. “It’s going to be a matter of several weeks to a few months, for sure,” Fauci said when ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked him, “When will life get back to normal?” He also said that at this point in time most people should take as many precautions as they can. “The golden rule that I say is that, when you think you are doing too much, you are probably doing enough or not enough,” he said.

But even as he urged further precautions, Fauci said he doesn’t think the United States should implement any sort of domestic travel restrictions in the “immediate future,” saying it is not an issue that is being given serious consideration for now. “I mean, they’ve been discussed, but not seriously discussed,” he said. “I don’t see that right now or in the immediate future. But remember, we are very open-minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public.”