Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the Trump administration is not considering imposing domestic travel restrictions at the moment as the coronavirus crisis intensifies.
“Travel restrictions within the country have not been seriously discussed,” Fauci said on ABC News’s “This Week.”
“I mean, they’ve been discussed, but not seriously discussed,” he said. “I don’t see that right now or in the immediate future. But remember, we are very open-minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public.”
Amid the closings of schools, businesses and institutions across the country, Fauci said, “it’s going to be a matter of, you know, several weeks to a few months” until the crisis abates. He added that it’s “possible” that China — which has taken significant steps to limit the domestic spread of the virus — may see a “second blip” once people resume normal life.
Fauci spoke on “Fox News Sunday” about Europe’s efforts to contain the virus, explaining that countries there are battling an “escalation phase” that is forcing them into “playing catch-up.”
“We feel that with rather stringent mitigation and containment, without necessarily complete lockdown, we’ll be able to prevent ourselves from getting to where, unfortunately, Italy is now,” he said.
Fauci defended the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis, noting that he’s “absolutely” confident that it is doing all it can. When people say that the government is “overreacting,” he added, that is a good sign.
“If you think you’re in line with the outbreak, you’re already three weeks behind. So you’ve got to be almost overreacting a bit to keep up with it,” he said.
During his ABC News appearance, Fauci weighed in on reports that the country has only 13,000 respirators, acknowledging it “may not be enough if we have a situation where we really have a lot of cases.”
“People need to understand that things will get worse before they get better,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is to make sure they don’t get to the worst-case scenario. That’s what we need to do.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Fauci said that a “worst-case scenario” could lead to the health system becoming “overwhelmed.”
“Are we going to have a worst-case scenario?” he said. “I don’t think so, I hope not.”
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Fauci also urged travelers returning to the United States from Europe to not rush back all at once.
“Unfortunately, that’s not what we like to see, but human nature is human nature,” he said, responding to photos of travelers returning from Europe massed at an airport, with thick lines of people snaking up stairways. “You don’t need to get back right now. You can pace getting back.”
If the government can reduce crowding by rationing how Americans can return home, it should, Fauci said.