Expert says COVID-19 cases will spike if social distancing is lifted

‘It’s bleak’: Virologist insists America’s coronavirus cases will spike ‘the moment we relax social distancing’ which will last until 2021 as anti-lockdown protests gain momentum and Trump considers re-opening

  • Virologist Dr Joseph Fair said social distancing should remain in place until the United States sees a decrease in the curve 
  • He warned against reopening the US after Trump cited May 1 as a target 
  • When asked how long social distancing should remain in place, Dr Fair said it would likely look like this until 2021 
  • He said it could take six months to get to where the US needs to be in terms of widespread testing 
  • It comes as Trump said he’s prepared to announce new guidelines allowing some states to quickly ease up on social distancing
  • Meanwhile, protesters defied social distancing and gathered outside Michigan’s State Capitol on Wednesday over the state’s lockdown measures
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

A virus expert has warned that America’s coronavirus cases will spike if the current social distancing measure are relaxed as President Trump considers reopening the country and anti-lockdown protests take place in Michigan.

Virologist Dr Joseph Fair said social distancing should remain in place until the United States starts seeing the curve of cases decrease given the current lack of widespread testing and development of a vaccine. 

In an interview with NBC’s Today on Thursday, Dr Fair warned against reopening the United States after Trump cited May 1 as a target and said that data indicated the US was ‘past the peak’.  

‘When we’re talking about flattening the curve, we’re just at the plateau part of the curve. So the moment we relax social distancing guidelines that’s going to turn into a new peak,’ Dr Fair said. 

‘So the peak can only go higher. We’re right not now flattening the curve. But what we ultimately want to do before we relax any social distancing measures would be to decrease the curve and see a steady decline.’

Virologist Dr Joseph Fair said social distancing should remain in place until the United States starts seeing the curve of cases decrease given the current lack of widespread testing and development of a vaccine

When asked how long social distancing should remain in place, Dr Fair said: ‘I think we can look at least until going into 2021 to have these measures in effect’.

He said it could take six months to get to where the US needs to be in terms of widespread testing, including nasal swabs and antibody tests. 

‘To get to where we need to be with testing, I think it’s going to take us realistically anywhere from two to maybe six months,’ he said.  

‘We’re either going to develop herd immunity… or a vaccine. I think we’ll probably end up meeting in the middle. 

‘It’s bleak and it’s unfortunate… we’re not going to have a vaccine before the end of the year. I hope I’m proven wrong.’

Dr Fair has previously warned that all 50 states needed to be on lockdown at the same time to help stop the spread of coronavirus 

He described social distancing as a ‘moot point’ unless the entire country was on a lockdown. 

It comes as Trump said he’s prepared to announce new guidelines allowing some states to quickly ease up on social distancing even as business leaders told him they need more coronavirus testing and personal protective equipment before people can safely go back to work.  

The new guidelines, expected to be announced on Thursday, are aimed at clearing the way for an easing of restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while keeping them in place in harder-hit places. 

The ultimate decisions will remain with governors. 

‘We´ll be opening some states much sooner than others,’ Trump said on Wednesday.

But in a round of calls with business leaders, Trump was warned that a dramatic increasing in testing and wider availability of protective equipment will be necessary for the safe restoration of their operations. 

While the business leader said they too wanted to get the economy going, they had worries about how to safely do so.  

The new guidelines come as the federal government envisions a gradual recovery from the virus, in which disruptive mitigation measures may be needed in some places at least until a vaccine is available – a milestone unlikely to be reached until next year. 

Trump said at his daily briefing that data indicates the U.S. is ‘past the peak’ of the COVID-19 epidemic, clearing the way for his plans to roll out guidelines to begin to ‘reopen’ the country.

Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, added that data from across the country showed the nation ‘improving’ but that Americans had to recommit to social distancing to keep up the positive momentum. 

She said nine states have fewer than 1,000 cases and just a few dozen new cases per day. She said those would likely be the first to see a lifting in social distancing restrictions at the direction of their governors.

Meanwhile, protesters defied social distancing and gathered outside Michigan’s State Capitol on Wednesday to demand Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer end her strict stay-at-home orders because it restricts their freedom.

Furious demonstrators waving Make America Great Again flags leaned out of their car windows and chanted ‘lock her up’ as part of #OperationGridlock – a stunt set up by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Besty DeVos family-linked conservative group, Michigan Freedom Fund. 

Thousands of furious demonstrators have gathered at Michigan’s state Capitol, creating a massive traffic jam filled with honking cars and flag-waving protesters in defiance of the state’s stringent statewide stay-at-home orders on Wednesday. Protesters, some showing off guns, pictured on the front steps of Lansing’s Capitol building urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to lift her lockdown mandate

Locals wrapped in winter coats and hats carried signs that said ‘Stop the Fear’, ‘End the Lockdown’ and ‘Heil Whitmer’, comparing the governor to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler

Three lanes of traffic were filled with lines of cars blaring their horns outside of the state building on Capitol Avenue Wednesday afternoon, with locals declaring they’re ready to get back to work and get back to their regular lives

People in their vehicles pictured protesting against excessive quarantine orders from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer around the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday

Thousands of drivers caused havoc around the building in Lansing and backed traffic up for a mile.

Hundreds defied pleas from organizers to stay in their cars by heading to the capitol steps to vent their anger at the stringent policies, which they believe are violating their constitutional rights.  

Some said they would rather die from coronavirus than see the small businesses being crippled and forced to close because of the pandemic, which has so far left 28,000 infected and 5,000 dead in Michigan.

Members of the crowd – many not wearing protective medical masks and some armed with assault rifles – shouted ‘Recall Whitmer’, waved Confederate flags, showed off Trump-Pence 2020 posters and held banners saying ‘Heil Whitmer’ and ‘live free or die’.

Many said the closure of home improvement stores, greenhouses, hairdressers, landscaping companies and the banning of boating and fishing was the source of their anger.

The governor criticized the protesters for risking themselves and others taking part in the protest by touching each other, handing out food with their bare hands and blocking an ambulance. 

She also said it was ironic that a group rallying against her stay-at-home order ‘may have just created a reason to lengthen it’.

The gathering was an angry response to Whitmer’s executive order last Thursday where she imposed one of the strictest set of lockdown guidelines in the country.

 

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