Health

Fauci open to a 14-day ‘national shutdown’ to stem virus

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a briefing on coronavirus in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Published 03/15/2020 | Reading Time 5 min 24 sec 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he would like to see aggressive measures such as a 14-day national shutdown that would require Americans to hunker down even more to help slow spread of the coronavirus.

Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci said travel restrictions within the United States, such as to and from hard-hit Washington state and California, probably will not be needed anytime soon.

The push by one of the nation’s foremost public health experts for Americans to act with greater urgency came as officials in Washington began preparing for what is expected to be a long-haul effort to try to stem the virus that has upended life around the globe.

At the White House, President Donald Trump tuned in to an online evangelical church service on what he designated as a national day of prayer and held a conference call with grocery and supply chain executives on how to keep food and other necessary supplies flowing to Americans.

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New protocols were on the way to protect the president and his staff. Starting Monday, those who enter the White House complex will have their temperatures taken, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss protocols not yet announced. This would expand on screenings that began Saturday for those in close proximity to the president and vice president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Congress had started work on a new aid package after the one just approved by the House early Saturday, which provided direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. It included sick pay and other resources and was pending in Senate.

“We have already begun work to develop a third emergency response package,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues.

With the U.S. Capitol among the many iconic landmarks closed to tours, Pelosi also urged lawmakers to have most of their Washington staff telework from home, as health officials urge social distancing. House lawmakers are away on weeklong recess and many have already curtailed office visits at their local offices, as well.

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Fauci, the public face of the administration’s messaging during a round of morning TV interviews, said the country should do as much as “we possibly could,” even if officials were criticized for overreacting. He said he raised the issue of measures such as a shutdown with the Trump administration, and said officials were open to his ideas.

At the White House, President Donald Trump tuned in to an online evangelical church service on what he designated as a national day of prayer and held a conference call with grocery and supply chain executives on how to keep food and other necessary supplies flowing to Americans.

New protocols were on the way to protect the president and his staff. Starting Monday, those who enter the White House complex will have their temperatures taken, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss protocols not yet announced. This would expand on screenings that began Saturday for those in close proximity to the president and vice president.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Congress had started work on a new aid package after the one just approved by the House early Saturday, which provided direct relief to Americans suffering physically, financially and emotionally from the coronavirus pandemic. It included sick pay and other resources and was pending in Senate.

“We have already begun work to develop a third emergency response package,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues.

With the U.S. Capitol among the many iconic landmarks closed to tours, Pelosi also urged lawmakers to have most of their Washington staff telework from home, as health officials urge social distancing. House lawmakers are away on weeklong recess and many have already curtailed office visits at their local offices, as well.

Fauci, the public face of the administration’s messaging during a round of morning TV interviews, said the country should do as much as “we possibly could,” even if officials were criticized for overreacting. He said he raised the issue of measures such as a shutdown with the Trump administration, and said officials were open to his ideas.


Associated Press writers Hope Yen, Aamer Madhani, Zeke Miller and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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