Dr. Fauci: ‘We Argued Strongly with the President’ on Withdrawing Guidelines

President Donald Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday that he and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, argued strongly for President Trump to extend social distancing guidelines beyond 15 days in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We felt that if we prematurely pulled back, we would only form an acceleration or rebound of something, which would put you behind where you were before, and that’s a reason why we argued strongly with the president that he not withdraw those guidelines,” he said on CNN’s New Day.

Fauci added, “He did listen.”

The president announced on Sunday that he would keep social distancing guidelines in place for another two weeks, from April 15 through April 30. Those guidelines include urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel and gatherings of more than ten people.

Fauci said he and Birx made his recommendations to Trump based on models they showed Trump on Sunday in the Oval Office.

“When you look at the kinetics of the outbreak, the patterns that are going on now, even as we speak, they were not going to reach a peak and turnaround the way we wanted to, within the time frame originally estimated,” he said.

“He looked at them, he understood them, and he shook his head and said, ‘I guess we got to do it,’” he said of the president’s decision.

Asked about his estimate that even with mitigation measures, there could be as many as 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in the U.S., he said, “I would not be surprised.”

“I don’t want to see it. I want to avoid it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw 100,000 deaths,” he said.


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