Coronavirus-lockdown protests will 'backfire' and interrupt the US's economic recovery, Fauci says

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesDr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
  • Coronavirus-lockdown protests cropping up in the US will “backfire,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday, adding that “unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery, economically, is not going to happen.”
  • Over the past week, protesters in several states have called for stay-at-home orders to be lifted. But Fauci said that “if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back.”
  • Separately, the president’s adviser Kellyanne Conway lashed out at some governors, saying they were “physically distanced from common sense.”
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Coronavirus-lockdown protests around the United States will “backfire” and hamper the country’s economic revival, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious-disease expert, said on Monday.

“Clearly, this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“But unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery, economically, is not going to happen,” Fauci added.

The US’s coronavirus outbreak dwarfs that of other countries, with more than 760,500 cases and more than 40,700 deaths as of Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

However, unlike other nations that have been severely affected by the pandemic, the US has not issued a nationwide stay-at-home order. Instead, state officials have been left to deal with their local outbreaks on a piecemeal basis, putting nearly 95% of the US population under some sort of shelter-in-place order.

People toting signs that say things like “Give me liberty or give me COVID-19” and “End the virus not the economy” have recently protested in the streets in several states, including Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, and the hashtag #FireFauci has trended on social media.

Several of the protests are thought to have been organised by three brothers and gun-rights activists who created numerous state-specific Facebook groups advocating lockdown rallies.

Trouble is also brewing in Colorado, where a trending video showed healthcare workers going toe to toe with demonstrators in Denver who said that they too should be allowed to work.

Experts, including Fauci, continue to urge social-distancing measures, like staying at least 6 feet away from other people, to curb the spread of the virus.

“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,” Fauci said.

Though it may be “painful,” it’s critical for authorities and citizens to follow the “guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening,” he said, referring to the Trump administration’s guidelines to “open up” the country in three phases, at the discretion of state governors.

Not lifting containment measures incrementally is dangerous, Fauci said.

“It’s going to backfire,” he said. “That’s the problem.”

However, discordant messages have emerged from the nation’s top brass.

President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted support for people demonstrating in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia, saying to “liberate” residents from strict social-distancing guidelines.

At a White House press briefing on Sunday, Trump said that “some of the things that happened are maybe not so appropriate.”

His adviser Kellyanne Conway echoed that message on Monday, telling Fox News’ Sandra Smith that some governors were “physically distanced from common sense.”

“Some have been more concerned about, I think, controlling the populations than protecting them, and the president is just making that clear,” Conway said.

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