Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning of the dangers of reopening the United States too soon.
In a Senate hearing today, the country’s leading infectious disease expert warned that “the consequences could be really serious” if the U.S. reopened too quickly.
“There is no doubt, even under the best of circumstances, if you pull back on the mitigation, more cases will appear,” Fauci said. “I feel that if [reopening too soon] occurs, it is a great risk that we will trigger an outbreak we will not be able to control.”
Further, Fauci warned that an outbreak could be triggered in the fall, when temperatures dip, if the U.S. does not take the appropriate precautions.
However, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director noted that his opinion is based on the health risk only, not on the economic ramifications of keeping the country shut.
“I don’t give advice about economic things — I don’t give advice about anything other than public health,” Fauci said.
After weeks of nationwide stores closures, retailers such as Nordstrom, Dillards and Gap Inc. have begun the process of reopening units this month as states including Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia ease restrictions. Governors are allowed to make individual decisions with regard to the reopening of their states, but federal health officials have suggested that some social distancing measures should remain in effect in the months to come.
As companies reopen their stores, they are taking steps to keep workers and shoppers safe, such as requiring staff to wears face coverings, keeping fitting rooms shut and placing social distance markers and signage in store.
As of Tuesday, there have been more than 1.3 million individuals infected by the coronavirus within the United States, with over 80,000 deaths recorded. The New York tristate area has been hit particularly hard, with New York state alone accounting for more coronavirus cases than any country outside of the U.S. At the same time, the coronavirus pandemic has slammed the American economy — causing the unemployment rate to climb above 15%, the highest rate since the Great Depression.
The retail sector, meanwhile, has faced significant challenges as government-mandated store closures have led companies to furlough and lay-off workers, reduce executive pay and tap credit lines. A growing number of already-struggling retailers, including Neiman Marcus, J.Crew and Stage Stores, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the past few weeks.