Mar 30, 2020 - Health

Fauci says Trump backed off Easter reopening after seeing coronavirus projections

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Monday that President Trump decided to extend social distancing restrictions for another 30 days after viewing models projecting coronavirus deaths over the weekend.

Why it matters: The models project that the virus will infect millions of Americans and could kill 100,000 to 200,000 even with current guidelines in place, Fauci said Sunday.

What he's saying:

"[The president's] first goal is to prevent suffering and death. And we made it very clear to him that if we pulled back on what we were doing and didn't extend [the guidelines], there would be more avoidable suffering and avoidable death. So, it was a pretty clear decision on his part.
"We showed him the data, he looked at the data, and he got it right away. It was a pretty clear picture. Dr. Deborah Birx and I went in together into the Oval Office and leaned over the desk and said, 'Here are the data. Take a look.' He looked at them. He understood them, and he just shook his head and said, 'I guess we got to do it.'"
— Dr. Anthony Fauci

The big picture: Fauci said he believes it would have been the wrong decision to relax restrictions.

  • Last week, Trump suggested reopening parts of the economy on Easter (April 12) despite warnings from health officials that loosening restrictions could cause the number of coronavirus cases to skyrocket.
  • "We're not economists. We're sensitive that the idea that the economy could suffer, but it was patently obvious looking at the data that at the end of the day if we try to push back prematurely not only would we lose lives, but it would hurt the economy," Fauci told CNN.

Go deeper ... The next American struggle: Waiting out the coronavirus

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