If you get the sense that the “experts” advising President Donald Trump are winging it, you may be right to some degree, considering that the coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented national emergency.
The scientific minds are more focused on the disease and mitigating its spread, while the president carries an added burden of dealing with the economic consequences of the prescribed cure.
It is here that the impact of social distancing comes into play.
On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said social distancing can be relaxed when there are no new coronavirus cases or no new deaths from the Chinese virus COVID-19.
A regular at the White House news briefings, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was asked if social distancing guidelines will be in effect until there is a treatment or vaccine.
“I think if we get to the part of the curve that Dr. Birx showed yesterday when it goes down to essentially no new cases, no new deaths at a period of time. I think it makes sense that you will have to relax social distancing,” Fauci said.
The harsh assessment of “no new cases” may sell in a sterile clinical setting, but in the real world where millions of Americans are out of work and countless companies shut down, with the fate of the U.S. economy, and the nation, hanging in the balance, that may be a luxury we cannot afford.
In a Sunday appearance on CNN, Fauci said the coronavirus pandemic could result in between 100,000 and 200,000 people in the U.S. if mitigation was not successful. For the record, there are currently just over 6,000 reported deaths.
Fauci spoke about the importance of “robust” testing in discussing when to end social distancing.
“The one thing we hopefully would have in place, and I believe we will have in place,” he said Thursday, “is a much more robust system to be able to identify someone who was infected, isolate them and then do contact tracing.”
“And if you have a really good program of containment that prevents you from ever having to get into mitigation — we are in mitigation right now. That’s what the social and physical distancing is,” Fauci added.
The director also suggested that the coronavirus “might keep coming back.”
“The ultimate solution to a virus that might keep coming back would be a vaccine. In fact, I was on the weekly conference call with the W.H.O.- sponsored group of all the health leaders in the world for dealing with this,” he said.
“The ultimate game-changer in this will be a vaccine, the same way a vaccine is for other diseases. Now we don’t worry about them,” Fauci explained.
In a CNN virtual town hall Thursday night, Fauci did not think much of states rights when he said everyone in America should be under a stay at home order.
“The tension between federally-mandated versus states rights to do what they want is something I don’t want to get into,” Fauci said. “But if you look at what is going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.”
But, as filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza said in a tweet, medical experts are singularly focused, while political leaders must focus on the larger implications.
D’Souza tweeted: “Medical personnel typically focus on one dimension: the health dimension. Statesmen, however, must also consider the economic dimension and the threats to constitutional freedom. Statesmen, not epidemiologists, must chart the course of public policy.”
Medical personnel typically focus on one dimension: the health dimension. Statesmen, however, must also consider the economic dimension and the threats to constitutional freedom. Statesmen, not epidemiologists, must chart the course of public policy @realDonaldTrump
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) April 2, 2020
Conservative Matt Walsh had a much harsher assessment of events, going so far as to suggest that Fauci’s recommendation is “completely batsh*t insane,” although he noted that “social distancing doesn’t have to mean shutdowns.”
“Fauci said that we can start to ‘relax’ social distancing once there are ‘no new cases, no deaths.’ Is it just me or is that completely batsh*t insane?” he tweeted. “That would keep us in a lockdown for many months or years. And if the virus becomes endemic, forever. How can that be the plan?”
People are saying that social distancing doesn’t have to mean shutdowns. I agree! I’ve been saying exactly that. But the problem is that the two seem to be synonymous to Fauci, who this morning agreed with the Surgeon General that the fed guidelines amount to a stay at home order
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) April 2, 2020
Although, there are others who clearly have a different take on the matter:
Right now, you let the very best expert doctors call the shots.
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 3, 2020
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