As of Sunday, there were 21,733 deaths in the US, with 2,000 deaths reported on Friday in just 24 hours
DESPARDES — The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 20,000 on Saturday, eclipsing Italy’s for the highest in the world, as White House coronavirus expert Dr Tony Fauci Sunday said lives could have been saved if US had been shut down earlier.
Speaking on CNN, the immunologist said the US could start to re-open next month, but warned of a second deadly wave in the fall.
During the interview, Fauci revealed that the government had been advised to begin social distancing measures in February.
Fauci was then asked if lives could have been saved if stay at home measures had started in February, rather than almost a month later.
“Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier you could’ve saved lives, obviously,” he replied.
“No-one is going to deny that.
“But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.”
President Trump announced plans to roll out “self-isolating” in mid March.
“We look at it from a pure health standpoint,” Fauci said. “We make a recommendation, often the recommendation is taken, sometimes it’s not.
“But it is what it is.”
Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus
A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Carter Mecher, a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote (on the night of Jan. 28) an email urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action. “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” he wrote. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”
“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.”
His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.
The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials.
When Mr. Trump finally agreed in mid-March to recommend social distancing across the country, effectively bringing much of the economy to a halt, he seemed shellshocked and deflated to some of his closest associates. One described him as “subdued” and “baffled” by how the crisis had played out. An economy that he had wagered his re-election on was suddenly in shambles.
As of Sunday, there were 21,733 deaths in the US, with 2,000 deaths reported on Friday in just 24 hours.