Fauci sees U.S. reopening 'in some ways' in May

Hailey Waller
Bloomberg News

Parts of the U.S. may be ready in May to ease emergency measures taken against the coronavirus pandemic but there’s no universal “light switch” to flip on, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

There’s also the possibility of a Covid-19 rebound in the fall which could be a factor in November’s elections, he said.

“It could probably start at least in some ways maybe next month,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.

“We are hoping by the end of the month we can look around and say, okay, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on, if so, do it,” he said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, walks back inside after doing a television interview at the White House, Friday, April 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Fauci said there’s “not going to be a light switch that we say, okay, it is now June, July, or whatever – click – the light switch goes back on.”

Ultimately the decision on reopening will come from America’s governors and mayors, who imposed stringent social distancing measures in the first place.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said on CNN that moving too quickly would be “gasoline on the fire.” The state has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., behind New York. A reopening should be done “in broad harmony” with neighboring states, Murphy said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on CBS that her city, the third largest in the U.S., cannot open up the economy until it has “all the health care controls in place,” including widespread testing and contact tracing.

Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said “the safety and welfare of the American people” has to come first.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force “are really looking at this from a balanced approach,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” despite President Donald Trump’s hope that stringent measures can start to be removed in some fashion on May 1.

“There is an urgency around this, but I have to not received political pressure to have FDA make one decision versus another,” Hahn said.

Many states have postponed their primary elections from April to later in the year. Fauci said he hopes in-person voting will be safe for November’s general election but “can’t guarantee it.”

“There is always the possibility, as that – as we get into next fall, and the beginning of early winter – that we could see a rebound” of coronavirus spread, Fauci said. “Hopefully we will be able to respond to that rebound in a much more effective way than what we have seen now in January, February, March.”