Top health official Fauci: Coronavirus crisis could last 8 weeks

Dr. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Defense: Trump extends deployment of National Guard troops to aid with coronavirus response | Pentagon considers reducing quarantine to 10 days | Lawmakers push for removal of Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries Don't move the COVID-19 goalpost Overnight Health Care: Sewage testing gives clues of coronavirus | White House says Trump would take hydroxychloroquine again | Trump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K virus deaths MORE, one of the lead scientists behind the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, said Friday that disruptions to everyday life in the U.S. could last up to eight weeks. 

Several cities and states have banned large gatherings, businesses are requiring their workers stay at home and Americans are generally being encouraged to limit their movements in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

“It's going to be at least a matter of several weeks,” Fauci said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

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“I mean it’s unpredictable but if you look at historically, how these things work, it'll likely be anywhere from a few weeks up to eight weeks or more,” he said, adding that he hopes it’s going to be only two, three or four weeks. 

“It’s really impossible to make an accurate prediction,” he said. 

So-called social distancing measures are crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring that hospitals are not overwhelmed by an influx of patients. 

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By spreading the outbreak out over a longer period of time, public health officials can have more time to prepare, get more resources and equipment, and ensure that everyone who needs medical care is able to get it.

More than 1,700 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including large outbreaks of community spread in Washington state, California and New York. 

Fauci said the U.S. has not peaked yet in terms of the number of cases. 

“We're at a critical point now — more in some regions of the country than in others — but in general, the kinds of things that are going on will hopefully make that blunting of that peak so that we could save a lot of lives,” Fauci said. 

Asked if the U.S. is heading toward a gradual shutdown, Fauci replied: “I'm not sure we're going to get to that. I think that would be really rather dramatic, but I can tell you that all things are on the table. We just have to respond as things evolve over the days and over the weeks.”