Fauci: 'Worst time' for a government shutdown is in middle of pandemic

Fauci: 'Worst time' for a government shutdown is in middle of pandemic
© Greg Nash

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party Webb: Pretzel logic  More than 40 Texas hospitals face ICU bed shortages MORE says the “the worst time” for a government shutdown is in the middle of a pandemic, a warning that comes as Congress is barreling toward a financial impasse that could close down the government.

“I think it’s so obvious to anybody who’s looking at the situation,” the nation's leading infectious diseases expert said in an interview with The Washington Post’s The Early 202. “The worst time in the world we want to shut down the government is in the middle of a pandemic where we have 140,000 people a day getting infected and 2,000 people a day dying. That’s the time when you want the government working full blast to address this."

Fauci said that a shutdown would have a “profound effect,” adding it “should be avoided, if at all possible.”

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The comments come as the U.S. grapples with the surge in coronavirus infections fueled by the rapidly spreading delta variant — and as lawmakers face the looming prospect of a government shutdown.

Earlier this week, the COVID-19 pandemic became the deadliest to hit the U.S., surpassing the 1918 flu pandemic.   

Sixty-four percent of the nation’s population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, while just under 55 percent are fully inoculated.

Asked about the vaccination rate, Fauci told the Post that he’s “disappointed” that there’s still 70 million people who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet. He also argued that mandates would be needed to get more Americans vaccinated.

“You're going to reach a point where you're going to have people who the only way they're going to get vaccinated is if it's going to be inconvenient for them not to be vaccinated, and that's where mandates come in,” Fauci said.

The Senate plans to vote as soon as Monday on a House-passed bill that would fund the government into early December, but Republicans say they'll block that bill from getting the 10 votes needed to break a filibuster because it also includes a debt ceiling hike.