Apr 14, 2020 - Health

Fauci: Goal of reopening U.S. by May 1 is "a bit overly optimistic"

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with AP Tuesday that the United States does not yet have the testing and contact tracing capacity to reopen its economy.

The big picture: The Trump administration has been encouraged by data showing fewer deaths than models earlier predicted, and some aides have pushed for a May 1 reopening. But Fauci cautioned against that target, saying it's “a bit overly optimistic" for much of the country until there's rapid testing in place.

Last week, Surgeon General Jerome Adams also disagreed with others in the federal government that the 30-day campaign will be enough for all Americans to re-up their work and lifestyles.

  • Government projections show that lifting social distancing restrictions after just 30 days will lead to a dramatic infection spike this summer and death tolls that would rival having done nothing since the outbreak began, the New York Times reports.

What Fauci's saying:

  • “I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections. It’s how you deal with the infections that’s going count."
  • Easing existing social distancing rules in much of the U.S. would need to happen on a “rolling” basis, he said, rather than all at once.
  • “We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet."

What's next: Looking forward, Fauci said another wave of infections isn't predetermined. However, “if you mean it goes way down and then come September, October, November, we have another peak, I have to say I would not be surprised," he said.

  • "I would hope that if and when that occurs, that we jump all over it in a much, much more effective way than we have in these past few months.”

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