Coronavirus: Dr Fauci says US may begin to reopen by summer as Bill Gates predicts schools returning by fall

Experts weigh in on when US can expect to return to some form of typical life

Chris Riotta
New York
Thursday 09 April 2020 16:41 BST
Dr Fauci says the US can reopen by summer: 'If we do the things that we need to do to prevent the resurgence'

As the coronavirus pandemic continues upending society and causing a historic economic downturn in the United States, experts say the country could expect to “reopen” in time for the summer — but there’s a catch.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus response task force, suggested a partial return to normalcy might be possible in the coming months so long as officials prepare for “the resurgence”.

“When we pull back and try to open up the country, as we often use that terminology, we have to be prepared that when the infections start to read their heads again, that we have in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact, trace and make sure we don’t have those spikes that we see now”, Mr Fauci said on Thursday in an interview with CBS This Morning.

He added that a reopening would only be possible “if we do the things that we need to do to prevent the resurgence”.

The official’s comments came as other analysts estimated how long it might take for American life to resume, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose foundation has pledged billions of dollars towards manufacturing possible vaccines for the novel coronavirus.

Mr Gates predicted on Thursday that “school will be able to resume in the fall” while noting the rest of the current year would be challenging in terms of school attendance.

“I don’t think this school year there’s going to be any significant attendance,” he said in an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, while acknowledging the added impact Covid-19 has had on lower income communities. “Most of the private schools, they’re used to online, they make sure all their students have the device and the connectivity.”

“Different school districts have would be unjust in terms of the kids who don’t have access, so that’s really a dilemma,” he added. “In the end, the low income students will be hurt the most by these school closures.”

The US has reported more than 429,000 official cases of Covid-19, as the death toll soared to almost 15,000 people. Health officials said those figures are likely higher due to a lack of expansive testing during the initial weeks of the outbreak in the US — a key window of time for testing that may have helped “flatten the curve” and keep the nation’s hospital systems within capacity, according to some.

Mr Fauci said on Thursday that he expressed his prediction about the summer months “with some caution”, as officials have implored Americans to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines meant to slow the rate of transmissions.

The White House coronavirus response task force extended its “15 days to slow the spread” initiative for an additional 30 days, extending through April, as states suffering significant outbreaks of the virus issue stay-at-home orders lasting until June in some cases.

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