Dr. Anthony Fauci responded to protesters calling for his firing from the White House’s coronavirus task force by suggesting Monday that the U.S. is not yet ready to reopen its economy.
“I mean, I think the message is that clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics, from the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus,” Fauci said. “But unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.”
Fauci acknowledged that the guidelines he helped implement have been “painful” for Americans to follow, but added that reopening the economy too quickly could “backfire.” Forty-three states in the U.S. have been placed under a stay-at-home order for weeks, although some states are beginning to ease restrictions recently. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Jan.21: Fauci Says Coronavirus ‘Not A Major Threat’ To U.S.)
“What you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,” Fauci said. “So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem.”
Protests have erupted around the country over the past week, with some Americans demanding an end to restrictions put in place by state governments. Anti-lockdown protesters in Texas could be heard chanting “Fire Fauci” during a protest at the state capitol Saturday.
Fauci’s handling of the pandemic has been criticized by some on the right, including members of Congress who have called for him to step down. President Donald Trump recently retweeted a post from a conservative activist calling for Fauci’s ouster, but later denied he was considering firing the doctor.