US to be ready for reopening in May, top virus expert says

The United States may be ready to start gradually reopening next month, the government's top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said on Sunday, as signs grew that the coronavirus pandemic was peaking, news wires reported.

"I think it could probably start at least in some ways maybe next month," Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN. "We are hoping by the end of the month we can look around and say, OK, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on?" Fauci added. "If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down." Fauci said that regions would be ready at different times rather than the United States turning back on like a "light switch."

Unlike in most Western countries, lockdown decisions are primarily up to local governments, not the president, and leaders of a number of hard-hit, densely populated states have vowed to act as long as necessary. "We want to reopen as soon as possible," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters. "The caveat is we need to be smart in the way we reopen." Neighbouring New Jersey's governor, fellow Democrat Phil Murphy, said that an economic recovery depended on a "full health-care recovery." If "we start to get back on our feet too soon, I fear, based on the data we're looking at, we could be throwing gasoline on the fire," Murphy told CBS.

President Donald Trump, for his part, wrote on Twitter Sunday: "We are winning, and will win, the war on the Invisible Enemy!" Last week he  zeroed in on the WHO to explain early difficulties, saying the UN body was overly reliant on China when illnesses first emerged in Wuhan. Trump had been hoping to campaign on a strong economy as he seeks re-election in November. Instead, some 17 million people have lost their jobs in a matter of weeks and his presumptive Democratic rival, Joe Biden, has been hammering him over his virus response.

The United States has been recording nearly 2,000 deaths a day from the coronavirus, disproportionately older people with weakened immune systems and ethnic minorities with less access to health care and teleworking.


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