Imposing coronavirus lockdowns for too long could cause “irreparable damage,” said the White House’s top doctor Anthony Fauci Friday.
Fauci believes many parts of the country are ready for “cautious” and “prudent” reopenings, though he warned that guidelines for social distancing and mask-wearing must still be adhered to, he said during an appearance on CNBC Friday.
“We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health,” he said.
The National Institutes for Health official has taken heat from Republican lawmakers for appearing to lobby against President Trump’s calls for reopening.
Fauci on Friday said that although state lockdowns are effective as long as cases are surging, the country has hit a point where some regions could begin reopening.
“We are enthusiastic about reopening and I think we can do it in a pace that would be reasonable and would get us back as a society from a morale standpoint as well as the economy,” he said.
“I don’t want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go.”
Fauci said he was still worried about localities reopening so long as cases continue to rise; he urged such areas to limit crowds.
“If states and cities and counties are going to [open] no matter what, I would recommend that they take very specific precautions in doing that,” he said. “You can still proceed to open, so long as you do those fundamental baseline things.
“But in general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way,” he went on.
“There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say proceed with caution if you’re going to do that.”
Fauci during his Congressional testimony last week predicted greater “suffering and death” from the coronavirus if certain states reopen businesses too hastily.
Health experts have dismissed the idea of COVID-19 herd immunity, but the timeline for a vaccine rollout is still uncertain.
Fauci has remained upbeat — during an interview with NPR earlier Friday he said it is “conceivable” that a vaccine could come by the end of the year.