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Coronavirus: Fauci says US does not need to ‘shut down’ again

Top US infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday that he doesn’t think the country will have to go back into ‘shutdown mode’ in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

‘We can do much better without locking down,’ Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Dr Sanjay Gupta at an event hosted by Harvard University. 

He said Americans should wear masks, keep physically distanced, shut down bars, wash their hands and favor outdoor activities over indoor ones in order to help stop transmission of the virus. 

‘If we follow these five or six principles, we can open up. We don’t have to stay shut,’ Fauci said. 

‘That is the way out of this. We can continue to go toward normality without doing the drastic things of shutting down,’ he added. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, will answer questions from Harvard Chan faculty and other COVID-19 experts, going narrow and deep on questions about the pandemic that you won’t hear anywhere else. This conversation will be moderated by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN. “When Public Health Means Business” is a multi-part series that virtually convenes luminaries from the realms of finance, industry and health to map a new path forward and ensure a better, safer future for all. Jointly presented by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the New England Journal of Medicine, and hosted by The Forum at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

His statement comes just two days after he said the US needs to drive new COVID-19 cases downwards to under 10,000 per day by next month or risk a catastrophic situation in the fall.

Fauci said on Monday that coronavirus cases needed to decline rapidly in order to gain some control of the pandemic by the end of the year. 

The US is currently averaging about 60,000 cases each day, bringing the total number of infections to more than 4.7 million as of Wednesday. 

‘The country continues to log 50,000 to 60,000 new cases a day, suggesting it is right in the middle of the first wave,’ Fauci told JAMA Network’s Dr Howard Bauchner.

‘If we don’t get them down then we’re going to have a really bad situation in the fall. 

The outbreak first struck the US back in March when New York became the epicenter for the virus.  

Infections were on the downward trajectory before spiking in Sunbelt states throughout June and July.   

Fauci said when cases initially declined, it came down to a baseline of about 20,000.

He said even 20,000 new cases each day was ‘not a favorable baseline’.   

‘We’ve got to get our arms around that and contain it as we enter the fall,’ he said of the recent surge in cases. 

Meanwhile, Neel Kashkari, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, believes that the US could benefit from a second shutdown.

Kashkari said Sunday that the US should ‘lock down really hard’ for four to six weeks in order to save the ailing economy. 

The economy, which in the second quarter suffered its biggest blow since the Great Depression, would be able to mount a robust recovery, but only if the virus were brought under control, he told CBS’ Face the Nation. 

‘If we don’t do that and we just have this raging virus spreading throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the next year or two, which is entirely possible, we’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies,’ he said.

‘That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us.’

California, Florida and Texas collectively accounted for nearly 180,000 of the new cases, though new infections were lower in all three states compared to the previous week.

Cases rose week-over-week in 20 states, including in Oklahoma where cases have risen for nine weeks in a row, in Montana where cases are up for eight straight weeks, and in Missouri where infections have risen for seven weeks.

Florida surpassed 500,000 cases as of Wednesday. The state also reported record-high hospitalizations with more than 600 admissions in a singe day.

Though the state’s new cases were below 10,000 for the 11th day in a row, Florida officials reported an additional 5,409 cases on Wednesday to push the statewide total past 500,000. 

Florida now has 502,739 infections, just second to California, which has more than 519,000 cases. 

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