A top infectious disease expert who currently serves on the White House coronavirus response task force has said he “can’t guarantee” it will be safe to vote in-person during the 2020 presidential elections come November.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview on Sunday he believed the country may be able to conduct an election in a “standard way” if states continued following social distancing guidelines the White House extended through the month of April.
“I believe if we have a good, measured way of rolling into this, steps towards normality, that we hope by the time we get to November, that we’ll be able to [vote] in a way which is the standard way,” Dr Fauci said in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union. “However, and I don’t want to be the pessimistic person, there is always a possibility as we get to next fall and the beginning of early winter that we can see a rebound.”
Mr Fauci has served as one of the most public-facing experts tasked with advising the White House in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 21,000 people have died due to complications from the novel virus in the US, and nearly 550,000 people have been infected.
Donald Trump was previously considering a “reopening” of the country scheduled for Easter Sunday — stating in public comments that he hoped for “packed churches” nationwide despite the pandemic — but later said he changed his minds after meeting with his experts on the task force.
Mr Fauci also suggested in the interview that parts of the country may be able to begin reopening “in some ways, maybe next month”, adding: “We are hoping that at the end of the month we could look around and say, ‘Okay, is there any element here that we can safely and cautiously start pulling back on?’ If so, do it. If not, then just continue to hunker down.”
“Hopefully, hopefully, what we’ve gone through now, and the capability that we have for much much better testing capability, much much better surveillance capability, and the ability to respond with counter measures, with drugs that work, that it will be an entirely different ball game” in November, the doctor suggested.
“I hope we don’t have a rebound,” he added. “That would make this very difficult.”