Dr. Anthony Fauci has just performed a legendary feet for politicos and public servants in Washington: On Sunday, he appeared on all five of the major national "Sunday Shows" of the main news networks: ABC's "This Week", CNN's "State of the Union", CBS's "Face the Nation", NBC's "Meet the Press" and Fox News's "Fox News Sunday", cementing his role as the face of the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak that has emptied out super markets and stoked panic across the US, where nearly 60 have already died.
Overall, his tone was optimistic, but cautious. During his appearance on CNN, Fauci acknowledged that "it's possible" that "millions could die" from the virus if the US didn't act quickly to combat the outbreak. During his interview on "Meet the Press," Dr. Fauci said he would "open" to a 14-day shutdown of schools and businesses in the US. He also said that Americans should be prepared to "hunker down" for a while.
"I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
He told Chuck Todd that all Americans need to be cautious, but people in areas with "obvious community spread" need to be extremely cautious. All people everywhere still need to be practicing social distancing, including young people who think they're not a high risk for severe infection.
"I'm not saying the rest of the country is okay...but if you are in an area where there is clear community spread you want' to be very, very, very cautious."
Though he said we shouldn't close every school in the country right now, he said local officials need to remain "ahead of the curve", and even said he would be in favor of some kind of national shut down, if not for 14 days, but for as "long as we could."
"I would prefer as much as we possibly we could. I think we should be very aggressive and make a point of overreacting."
On "Fox News Sunday", Dr. Fauci was asked whether he would support a domestic travel ban. He replied that though it hasn't been seriously considered, he would be open to a domestic travel ban like what Italy did, and that such a national lockdown wouldn't be "out of the question."
"That has not been seriously considered - doing travel bans in the country - though we are keeping a lot of things in mind," Dr. Fauci said, before ending the interview.
While certain members of Congress were encouraging Americans to go out and live their lives, Dr. Fauci said Americans should avoid bars and restaurants.
"I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and in bars."
He added that any elective surgeries should be cancelled: "Anybody who doesn't need to be in the hospitals...keep them out of the hospitals" he said on "Meet the Press".
Pressed about the response on "Face the Nation", Dr. Fauci said the "peak" of the outbreak in the US will hopefully be lower than the numbers seen in Italy. "I want to be overreacting," Dr. Fauci said. He added that the US is practicing travel bans and containment and mitigation in the country, and while "it is correct that case numbers will go up" he hopes that the US will never get to that "really bad peak".
While the mortality rate in China looked to be about 3%, a number that is "quite high", Dr. Fauci noted, he hoped the rate in the US would be around 1%, which is still 10x greater than the flu's 0.1%.
"Overwhelmingly more people recover from this than have serious trouble," Dr. Fauci said.
Should Americans get on a plane right now? Fauci was asked on "Face the Nation".
Dr. Fauci said vulnerable Americans should avoid all travel and avoid public places whenever possible.
"If you're elderly...you shouldn't put yourself in a place where you're around crowded people."
It may come to the situation that we "strongly recommend...myself personally I wouldn't go to a restaurant because I have an important job to do" Dr. Fauci said. But he didn't say whether all Americans should avoid going out, or if he would support blanket closures.
Asked what's the plan if hospitals get overwhelmed, Dr. Fauci assured his interviewer that the government's efforts should prevent this from happening, though he couldn't rule out the possibility that this would happen...and plan for it.
"We're doing everything we can to make sure that worst case scenario will happen. It's possible they could be...but if in fact there's a scenario that's very severe, it's conceivable that would happen, which is why we have a strategic national stockpile of ventilators and things like that.
"We would not be being realistic if we weren't to say that possibility didn't exist...but there is planning to prevent that."
As far as how long it will take for the US to "rev up" testing, he said his understanding of where we are with the "companies who are getting involved" is that we will have "enough" tests in a few days, and that the number will only continue to go up.
Watch the interviews below: