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Dr. Fauci warns states reopening ahead of federal guidelines: 'You're taking a really significant risk'


Many states can't wait any longer

Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become the nation's most influential public health voice as a member of the White House coronavirus task force, warned that states choosing to ease lockdown restrictions without meeting federally recommended guidelines are taking "significant risk," The Hill reported.

What's this about? The White House laid out a three-phase template for how states could choose to reopen economic activity and ease social distancing restrictions gradually, as long as they show a consistent decrease in new cases and hospitalizations over the course of two-week periods.

Many states, however, have chosen to adopt their own reopening plans that include lifting some restrictions on individual and economic activity even without meeting federal benchmarks. President Donald Trump was critical of Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp for this reason.

What does Fauci think about it? "If you follow the guidelines, there's a continuity that's safe, that's prudent and that's careful," Fauci said on CNN. "The concern that I have is that there are some states ... who are looking at that and kind of leapfrogging over the first checkpoint. You're taking a really significant risk if you do that and you don't have in place the absolute clear-cut capability of identifying, isolating and doing the contact tracing."

Cure vs. disease? As roughly 10% of the U.S. population has been thrust into temporary or permanent unemployment over the past several weeks, state politicians are under intense pressure to allow more people to resume working, even with the risk of increased numbers of COVID-19 infections.

However, the binary choice between public health or economic health might not be an accurate way of viewing the situation. Many experts believe that the pandemic will not come under control until a majority of the population has been exposed to the virus and developed immunity — which would mean getting younger and healthy people back to work could actually be the best decision for the economy and for public health.

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