- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates proposed Tuesday that the U.S. shut down for 2.5 months or more to minimize the number of deaths caused by the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The billionaire former head of Microsoft called for the nationwide shutdown in an article outlining his three-step plan for combating the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country.

“First, we need a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down. Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals,” Mr. Gates, 64, wrote for The Washington Post.

“This is a recipe for disaster,” Mr. Gates continued. “Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down across America — which could take 10 weeks or more — no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown. Any confusion about this point will only extend the economic pain, raise the odds that the virus will return and cause more deaths.”

Mr. Gates, who stepped down from the board of Microsoft last month to focus on philanthropy, wrote that he decided a nationwide shutdown was necessary after recently speaking with experts and leaders from around the world through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable organization he co-founded with his wife.

Other components of his three-step plan include ramping up testing and pursuing a data-based approach to developing treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19, the infectious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I still believe that if we make the right decisions now, informed by science, data and the experience of medical professionals, we can save lives and get the country back to work,” he wrote.

More than 200,000 people within the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19 since late January, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University. More than 4,000 have died and more than 8,000 have recovered, according to the data.

Florida on Wednesday joined more than two dozen states and counting where residents have been ordered to help slow the spread of the virus by staying at home except under limited circumstances.

President Trump said the previous day that he has discussed imposing a nationwide stay-at-home order but that it seemed “pretty unlikely” for now.

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