April 7, 2020
President Donald Trump is facing new pressure from the nation’s top infectious disease expert to call for a nationwide stay-at home order that would flatten the coronavirus curve and help save the lives of more Americans.
In his strongest comments yet, ABC News reports, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become a prominent face in the fight against the pandemic, is now saying that he “doesn’t understand” why every state isn’t under a stay-at-home order—a move that Trump continues to resist, arguing those decisions should be left to the states.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Fauci told CNN at a town hall on April 2, when asked about some states having not issued stay-at-home orders. “The tension between federally-mandated versus states rights to do what they want is something I don’t want to get into, but if you look at what’s going on in this country I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that — we really should be.”
Trump has stuck by his guns, despite White House models revealing that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die from COVID-19—and that’s assuming that the entire country implements strict social distancing measures, ABC News says..
Despite the advice of his top expert, the president has professed, “It’s awfully tough to say ‘close it down'” to states with fewer infections, adding that those states should be given “a little bit of flexibility.”
Experts disagree. John Cohen, former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security and an ABC News contributor, echoed a warning from health officials: “If you have one state that is very strict about reducing social contact, and you have a neighboring state that isn’t, then infected people can go back and forth and spread the virus.”
But a handful of states remain without any form of statewide closures of “nonessential” businesses or stay-at-home orders in place: Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. All five are overseen by Republican governors.
“If the president came out with a clear message that was consistent with what his own public health officials are saying, then you would see these governors respond in a different way,” said Cohen, who has dealt in crisis management at a federal level.
What’s more, Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, said at the April 2 briefing that early data is revealing that social distancing is still not being followed stringently—at least in some areas.
“We’re watching very carefully because we can see that you can go from this to this very quickly,” Birx said, pointing a steep slope on a graph. “This should not be happening any longer in new places, if people are doing the social distancing, washing their hands, not getting together in large groups.”
“When we said that, now over 16 days ago, that was serious,” she said of the coronavirus guidelines. “And you can see the number of individuals who have been infected since then. The people we’re seeing infected today and in hospitals today were infected after the guidelines went out.”
This is why Cohen says that it’s “so important, particularly at this stage, when we’re seeing the number of cases increase dramatically on a daily basis, that every state take consistent action.”
Research contact: @abcnews