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Dr. Anthony Fauci describes bleak virus outcome in worst-case scenario

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appeared on several news talk shows Sunday to discuss the coronavirus. Credit: EPA / Shawn Thew

The infectious disease specialist at the forefront of efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus nationwide said Sunday that Americans should stay home as much as possible, acknowledged a worst-case scenario in which hundreds of thousands could possibly die, and said Americans are better off overreacting to the growing crisis.

Asked whether he endorsed a 14-day national shutdown on NBC's "Meet the Press," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said: "You know, I would prefer as much as we possibly could. I think we should really be overly aggressive and get criticized for overreacting."

He continued, "Americans should be prepared that they're going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing." 

Fauci, who has been out front as President Donald Trump's lead expert on efforts to contain the coronavirus, appeared on five network and cable talk shows Sunday morning, as the pandemic in the United States continued spreading. 

Fauci, asked on ABC's "This Week" how long it would be until life returned to normal, said: "It's going to be a matter of … several weeks to a few months for sure."

On CNN's "State of the Union," Fauci said he expected new infections and preventing deaths is key.

"There are going to be more problems with regard to morbidity and mortality," he said. "The challenge we have right now is how do we blunt that."

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Asked if it's possible that hundreds of thousands of Americans could die from the virus, Fauci said that in a worst-case scenario: “Yes, it is possible. Our job, our challenge is to try and make that not happen. But to think, if we go about our daily lives and not worry about everything, that it's not going to happen, it could happen. And it could be worse."

Asked on "Meet the Press" if he'd support a lockdown of bars and restaurants, Fauci said: "That's an individual question. … Everybody's got to get involved in distancing themselves socially. If you are in an area where there is clear community spread, you have to be much, much more intense about how you do that. That's where you get things like school closings."

On CNN, he urged everyone to protect themselves.

“There are going to be young people who wind up getting seriously ill, so protect yourself, but remember, you can also be a vector or a carrier, and even though you don’t get seriously ill, you can bring it to a person who would bring it to a person that would bring it to your grandfather, or your grandmother, or an elderly relative. That’s why everyone has to take it seriously, even the young."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on CNN and pressed the federal government to take the lead on producing emergency supplies.

"We need the federal government to take over the supply chain right now," de Blasio said. "Right now, we have to make sure that the places in this country that need more ventilators, that need surgical masks, that need hand sanitizer, that that is a federalized dynamic, where those factories that produce those goods are put on 24/7 shifts, and those goods are distributed where they're needed most, as we would in wartime."

If the federal government doesn't understand "this is the equivalent of a war already, there is no way that states and localities can make all the adjustments we need to," de Blasio said.

 

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