With over 245.000 cases, the coronavirus outbreak continues to expand in the US. This had led to more than 30 states ordering their residents to stay at home. Nevertheless, that’s not enough, according to the country’s top infectious diseases expert.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said all the other districts that have so far held back "really should reconsider" their decision of not ordering a lockdown. "If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that," Fauci told CNN, acknowledging that there is "tension" on the subject between the federal and state governments.
The advice given by Fauci seems at odds with the path taken so far by President Donald Trump, who has dismissed the idea of a nationwide lockdown order, claiming the need to have flexibility between states.
"You have to look -- you have to give a little flexibility," Trump said at Wednesday's White House press briefing. "If you have a state in the Midwest, or if Alaska, for example, doesn't have a problem, it's awfully tough to say, 'close it down.' We have to have a little bit of flexibility."
Other countries such as Italy, Spain, and France followed China’s lead in locking down their entire countries. India recently imposed a nationwide quarantine, locking down a country of 1.3 billion people. Besides Fauci, a growing group of governors has also been asking for a unified front among states to issue stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the outbreak. The fact that some states don’t have cases now is no guarantee they could have them in the future, they argued.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the federal government has authority for isolation and quarantine under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Public Health Service Act.
"Our message is this: 'What are you waiting for?'" California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, told CNN. "What more evidence do you need? If you think it's not going to happen to you, there are many proof points all across this country; for that matter, around the rest of the world."
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer echoed Newsom’s message, claiming the US "should have a national strategy instead of a patchwork of policies" at the state level." He celebrated governors that "are leading, showing the way and being aggressive" but said others should join the group.
As well as asking the Trump administration for a national stay-at-home order, Fauci said the government shouldn’t relax social distancing orders too early, as it could lead to the number of deaths going up.
"And that is the worst possible thing in the world you want to see," he said. "And that's the reason why I am so adamant about when we say we have got to follow those guidelines, you really got to take it seriously."