Officials, experts see challenges ahead before reopening economy
Public health officials said Sunday that there will be further challenges facing the U.S. ahead of reopening the economy after mass closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said some parts of the U.S. could possibly begin rolling back restrictions as early as next month.
“We are hoping at the end of the month we can look around and say, ‘Is there any element here we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on?’ If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Fauci stressed that the situation will differ by region and will have to be a gradual process.
“It is not going to be a light switch,” Fauci said.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on ABC’s “This Week” that it’s “too early to be able to tell” if May 1 is a good target to reopen the economy.
But he said “we’re hopeful about that target.”
“We see the incredible resiliency of the American people with respect to social distancing, hand washing and all of those mitigation factors. So, that gives me great hope,” he added.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on CNN he would be the “happiest guy” in the country if New Jersey is able to reopen by May 1, but warned that healthcare recovery needs to be the first step ahead of economic recovery.
“Any sort of an economic reopening or recovery depends first and foremost on a complete health care recovery,” Murphy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “If we either transpose those steps or we start to get back on our feet too soon, I fear based on the data we’re looking at we could be throwing gasoline on a fire.”
Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said the city will look for “sustained periods of decreasing infection” and “sustained periods of decreasing hospitalizations,” when deciding on when to reopen the economy.
She also said that the coronavirus pandemic peak in the city will likely come in June.
“We expect that that could happen in Washington, D.C. in June,” Bowser told Fox’s Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” adding “our residents are doing everything that we ask so that we can push down the number of peak cases and push out when that surge would happen in D.C.”
World Health Organization (WHO) special envoy David Nabarro said there will likely continue to be small outbreaks of the novel coronavirus until the development and widespread distribution of a vaccine.
He said every community will need to have a “kind of defensive shield” in place to pick cases up as they appear, isolate them and stop outbreaks from developing.
“It is going to be necessary for every single country to have that capacity,” he said. “And so we’re actually encouraging countries to put that in place now, and that will facilitate releasing lockdowns and prevent further massive outbreaks.”
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