A few weeks ago, Dr. Anthony Fauci sat down in front of Congress and warned that millions of Americans could die if the federal government didn't take the outbreak seriously.
And now, after the Trump Administration scrambled to ramp up testing capacity and the states worked with the Feds, private entities, and others (including in some cases foreign nations) to distribute ventilators as Gov. Andrew Cuomo painted a horrifying portrait of sickened New Yorkers suffocating to death in hospital hallways because there were no ventilators available.
Well, yesterday, NYC Mayor de Blasio said that, after a few days of near capacity numbers, hospitalizations have dropped by such a steep degree that the city believes it has enough ventilators on hand, and won't need any more.
Now on Thursday, Dr. Fauci is taking to cable news to spread the message of optimism that has lifted US stocks over the past few days: Instead of the 240k figure used by President Trump as recently as two weeks ago, Dr. Fauci told NBC News that if the public continued to stick to the "mitigation efforts", that the death toll might be as low as 60k.
To be sure, while lockdown conditions are in place around the world, there are still a dozen or so states who don't have mandatory closure or curfew orders in place.
Watch @savannahguthrie’s full interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who talks about efforts to control the spread of coronavirus, and how much longer social distancing will last. pic.twitter.com/GLZAy5Ox39— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 9, 2020
Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he’s "cautiously optimistic" that the US might soon see cases reach the back-side of the curve as the "turnaround and that curve not only flatten, but are coming down.” He made clear, however, that the virus is never going to disappear, and things will still be different even after we've finished going "back to normal".
"When we attempt to get back to normal, we have to have in place the ability, when it starts to try and rear its ugly head, we can absolutely suppress it by identification, isolation, contact tracing,” he said.
He also warned that this outbreak is a "wake up call", warning that more serious outbreaks might occur in the future.
"When you're talking about getting back to normal, we know now that we can get hit by a catastrophic outbreak like this,” he said. “It can happen again, so we really need to be prepared to respond in a much more vigorous way.”
Additionally, during an interview with CBS News (the good doctor routinely makes at least 2-3 appearances on cable news a day, an extremely rigorous media schedule in light of his many responsibilities), Dr. Fauci warned that Americans might be able to take their summer vacations if we continue sticking to the "mitigation strategies", and prevent a full-one "resurgence" of the virus, he said on "CBS This Morning".
"It can be in the cards," he said.
But, Dr. Fauci warned, "and I say that with some caution, because as I said, when we do that, 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 rear their heads again that we have it in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contract trace and make sure we don't have those spikes we have now. So the answer to your question is yes, if we do the things that we need to do to prevent the resurgence."
Getting back to normal is not like a light switch that you turn on and off, Fauci said, adding it’ll be gradual and depend on where in the country you live.
"The bottom line of it all is, that what we see looking forward, it is very likely that we will progress towards the steps towards normalization as we get to the end of this thirty days. And I think that’s going to be a good time to look and see how quickly can we make that move to try and normalize. But hopefully, and hopefully, by the time we get to the summer we will have taken many steps in that direction," he added.
Asked if he would be taking a vacation, Fauci smiled and laughed: “I don’t take vacations," he replied.