Top infectious disease expert doesn’t rule out supporting temporary national lockdown to combat coronavirus

Director of National Institute of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci tells CNN’s Brianna Keilar that he would like to see people avoid crowds and says those trying to return to the US from overseas should not all return immediately.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert on Sunday did not rule out supporting a temporary national lockdown of the country’s restaurants and bars in order to curb the spread of coronavirus, saying he’d like to see a “dramatic” reduction in activity in order to fight the disease.

Asked by CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “State of the Union” if he’d like a “national lockdown” where people are being told they need to stay home and out of restaurants and bars, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said he’d “like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see” in those places.

“Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see,” Fauci added.

Fauci, a key member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, told Keilar that Americans will need to come to terms with the fact that life will begin to look much different as the country tries to slow the spread of the disease.

“We need to be very serious about — for a while, life is not going to be the way it used to be in the United States,” he said. “We have to just accept that if we want to do what’s best for the American public.”

The comments from Fauci come as officials continue to urge “social distancing” as a way to slow the spread of the disease. Dozens of national and local events have been canceled or postponed in recent days as companies, organizations and governments try to reduce the number of people congregated in a single area.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines “social distancing” as “remaining out of places where people meet or gather,” and “avoiding local public transportation.”

Already, some states and cities have implemented dramatic policies amid the pandemic.

The New Jersey city of Hoboken is implementing a city-wide curfew and new restrictions, starting Monday, in response to coronavirus. Residents must stay home from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. ET, unless they have to work during those hours.

The city of Austin, Texas, has banned gatherings of 250 people starting early Sunday until at least May 1, while New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said gatherings of 500 or more people — except for schools, hospitals, nursing homes and mass transit — are banned in the state because of the outbreak.

As of Sunday morning, there were 2,885 cases of coronavirus in US and the disease has resulted in at least 60 deaths.

This story has been updated with additional information from Fauci’s Sunday interview.

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