Top Health Official Says Temporary National Shutdown May Be Necessary to Stop Coronavirus Spread

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The White House has said that the U.S. will not yet go into a national shutdown — but a top health official on President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force says it may be necessary to slow down the virus’ spread.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top expert on infectious diseases, said that placing further restrictions on daily life is an aggressive measure, but could significantly help to reduce the rate of infections of the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

“I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Fauci said on Meet the Press on Sunday.

Currently, epidemiologists are urging Americans to practice social distancing — staying inside as much as possible and keeping about six feet between people — as many people may be asymptomatic and unknowingly spreading COVID-19. But over the weekend, several cities saw packed bars and restaurants despite the recommendations, leading legislators in New York, Ohio, Illinois, California and Massachusetts to shut down bars and restaurants for the next few weeks.

On Sunday night, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that gatherings of 50 or more people — meaning conferences, weddings, restaurants, movie theaters — be canceled for the next eight weeks.

“Right now, myself personally, I wouldn’t go to a restaurant. I just wouldn’t because I don’t want to be in a crowded place…. I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m going to be all of a sudden self-isolating for 14 days,” Fauci said on Face the Nation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

And Fauci said that as he and the rest of the Trump’s coronavirus task force work on managing the spread of COVID-19, “everything is on the table,” and he would not rule out a national shutdown that would fully close all bars and restaurants across the country to keep people inside.

As the virus spread in China back in early February, the country put large swaths of the country into a full quarantine, which helped to stop the disease from spreading further. After peaks of around 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, the country is now down to around 30 new cases a day, according to the World Health Organization.

Italy and Spain have also put their citizens into quarantine as cases soar — there are now 24,747 cases and 1,809 deaths in Italy, and 9,248 cases and 335 deaths in Spain.

As of Monday morning, there are at least 3,602 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and 66 people have died.

By Sunday night, 33 states and the District of Columbia have opted to completely close public schools, while the remaining states have closed schools on a district-by-district basis, according to Education Week.


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