Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he anticipates a “rolling re-entry” of the country as states begin to shift from mitigation to containment phases of the coronavirus outbreak.
He said that it can’t be a “one-size fits all” type of deadline, explaining the outbreak and recovery in places like New York will be drastically different than Washington State given the number of cases in each epicenter.
“It is not going to be a lightswitch that we say okay it is now June, July, whatever. Click, the light switch goes back on,” Dr. Fauci, the Director of the National Health Institute, said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ “It’s going to be depending on where you are in the country.”
The U.S. death toll — 18,860 deaths as of Friday — surpassed that of Italy, which has been devastated by the virus.
There have been 501,701 COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
However, Mr. Fauci is “cautiously optimistic” that the country is starting to show signs of improvement, and hopes that this rollout process could possibly begin in “some ways” next month.
“You’re trying to balance two things: You want to make sure you don’t do something prematurely and precipitously. At the same time you pay attention to the need to try and get back to normal,” he said.
He cited New York, which he acknowledged had a “horrible, horrible” week in terms of deaths, but at the same time saw a decrease in the number of admissions. Mr. Fauci explained that the models from other countries showed a sharp decline in cases once the admissions began to decrease.
Mr. Fauci cautioned, however, that the U.S. will only be ready to reopen when states have the capacity to actively respond to the inevitable uptick of cases that comes with normalcy.
“The critical issue is being able to, in real-time, isolate and contact trace. That’s called containment,” he said.
• Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.