- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci said many states are unlikely to change their social distancing and coronavirus mitigation strategies in the coming weeks, as President Trump gets set to unveil a path toward reopening parts of the U.S. economy.

“There is going to be a great deal of variability,” Dr. Fauci said in an interview that aired Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “It would probably be a rolling entry into it with some states actually doing nothing different because they’re still in a really difficult situation and you would not want to relax any of the physical separation guidelines, and others that would be doing really much better.”

“So it’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all,” said Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Mr. Trump on Tuesday said some states will likely be ready to loosen their restrictions in the coming weeks. But the president said it will ultimately be up to governors across the U.S., after saying earlier in the week that he had the final say.

Dr. Fauci did not say that the U.S. has definitely passed the “worst” of the virus, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested this week for his state.

“There are still a couple of cities right now that we’re worried about that haven’t yet peaked and turned around,” he said. “I’m a very cautious person, but we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.”

He said sufficient contact tracing is one key prerequisite when talking about starting to reopen parts of the country.

“The minimum thing is that you’ve got to be able to identify, isolate, get out of circulation, and do adequate and appropriate contact tracing as new cases arise,” Dr. Fauci said.

Contact tracing is a typically labor-intensive process to track people who were recently in proximity to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Dr. Fauci said pulling back on mitigation and physical separations will lead to infections.

“The real proof of the pudding of the success of this reentry is how quickly and effectively you identify them, you get them out of circulation, you give them care where needed, and you do contact tracing so that you don’t have a beginning of a peak,” he said. “If you don’t have that, then you may have some difficulty.”

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