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Dr. Fauci Warns of 'Irreparable Damage' if States Shut Down Too Long

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

After warning about the consequences of reopening too quickly, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday that now is a good time for states to begin the process of reopening.

"Now is the time, depending on where you are and what your situation is, to begin seriously looking at reopening the economy," the nation's leading infectious disease expert said in an interview on CNBC. "I'm totally in favor of that, if done in the proper way in the appropriate setting."

Previously, Dr. Fauci cautioned against states reopening too quickly and the potential wave of new coronavirus cases that premature openings may cause. But now Dr. Fauci is warning of "irreparable damage" if states remain locked down for too long.

"We can't stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences including consequences for health," said Dr. Fauci. "And it's for that reason why the guidelines are being put forth so that the states and the cities can start to reenter and reopen."

In a letter sent to the White House this week, hundreds of doctors warned President Trump of the "exponentially growing health consequences" stay-at-home orders are having on millions of Americans. The doctors characterized the shutdown as a "mass casualty incident" responsible for millions of Americans missing critical screenings for early signs of cancer and heart problems, increased alcohol and substance abuse, missed well-checkups for children, and numerous other unintended consequences that suggest the cure may very well be worse than the disease.

Asked to judge the states already moving ahead with reopening plans, Dr. Fauci admitted that most are acting "in a prudent way."

"In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way," Dr. Fauci said. "There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say please proceed with caution if you’re going to do that."

Much was made of Dr. Fauci's conspicuous absence from national television interviews over the past two weeks. While Dr. Fauci was under a modified quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus, critics of President Trump took Dr. Fauci's absence as an indication of a possible rift between Dr. Fauci's caution about reopening and the president's optimism that the worst of the virus is now behind us. 

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