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‘Hard to say’ if we advised states to remain closed for too long, ‘debatable’ if shutdowns should have been longer or shorter

On Friday, the “PBS NewsHour,” White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said “it’s hard to say” whether federal shutdown guidelines for the coronavirus pandemic have gone on too long at the light of states like Florida that opened up before the federal government recommended and did relatively well.

Host Judy Woodruff asked: ‘We’ve heard people say, in particular, that you and others charged with getting the message out to the American people have been sending the message that we need to keep things shut down too long and that There were states like Florida that opened earlier than the federal government recommended and they did relatively well. How do you view closure advice and for how long? »

Fauci replied, “Well, you always have to assess to try to open as quickly as possible, in the safest way possible. Nobody likes to shut down anything, be it society in general, the economy or schools. We were all convinced that it was a difficult decision. And you want to open up as quickly as possible, as long as you use the downtime for a purpose, an endgame. Namely, at the time the recommendation was made to shut down for a bit, you might recall that hospitals were overrun in New York. Remember the hospital at Elmhurst, with the refrigerated trucks there to put the bodies. We had to do something. It doesn’t mean you do it indefinitely. You use that time to upgrade hospital beds, to get more PPE, to get the right number of ventilators. When you’re in a situation where you have a vaccine available, the only time you’d want to restrict society is to give yourself time to get your people vaccinated, which, in fact, is why we think the Chinese made something of a mistake to rigidly shut down, but not, at the same time, vaccinate their entire population, including the elderly.

Woodruff then asked, “Do you think, here in the United States, though, that the advice to stay closed has gone on too long, that it should have been opened sooner?”

Fauci replied, “Judy, it’s hard to say. No doubt this type of restriction has saved many lives. There is no argument on that. To say maybe a bit longer or a bit shorter, I think is debatable. But the idea of ​​closing for at least a temporary period has clearly saved many, many lives.

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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