One of the nation's top health experts warned Friday that coronavirus lockdowns could cause "irreparable damage" if they are continued for too long.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, explained his position during an appearance on CNBC's Halftime Report with Meg Tirrell.
"We can’t stay locked down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health," he said. "It’s for that reason that the guidelines have been put forth so that the cities and states can start to reenter an reopen."
Fauci, who is also the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said reopening state economies should be determined on a case-by-case basis, but emphasized the importance of easing lockdown restrictions in a safe and prudent manner.
"I don’t want people to think that any of us feel that staying locked down for a prolonged period of time is the way to go. But now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, to begin to seriously look at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try to get back to some degree of normal," he said. "... In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way. There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say please proceed with caution if you’re going to do that."
Fauci's comments come a day after Donald Trump vowed to keep the country open even if a second wave of COVID-19 infections emerged. Many health experts, including Fauci, have expressed concerns over another potential outbreak hitting the U.S. in the fall and winter, when flu season will also be in full swing. Trump, however, told reporters Thursday he was confident any future flare-ups could be contained.
Earlier this month, Fauci warned Senate members about the dangers of reopening the economy too quickly, as states continued to lift stay-at-home restrictions that were implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"My concern that if some areas — cities, states or what have you — jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up, without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks," Fauci said, as reported by CNN. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery."