As several states lifted quarantine measures this weekend, allowing businesses and public spaces to reopen, Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins University, warned that even a partial reopening of the country could pose life-threatening risks to 1 in 3 Americans.
During an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with host Chris Wallace, Inglesby noted that a third of Americans were either older than 65 or had underlying health conditions, making them vulnerable to severe infection from the coronavirus. With many states struggling to ramp up diagnostic capabilities, there was still no way to reopen the country without exposing that population, he said.
“This disease moves quickly,” Inglesby told Wallace, “and it doesn’t respect city borders or state borders.”
“I think we need a strategy that works for everyone,” he added. “I don’t think there can be a strategy that works for half the country, with an attempt to keep the other part of the country in some sort of large isolation. I don’t think it would work logistically or practically.”
Playing a clip of Trump’s assertion last week that the virus will dissipate on its own, without a vaccine, Wallace asked Inglesby whether the virus could go away soon.
“I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests,” Trump said Friday. “This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s going to go away, and we are not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”
Inglesby pushed back on Trump’s claim, saying the United States is still in the early stages of the pandemic and would need a vaccine, in addition to improved diagnostic and tracing capabilities, to go back to normal.
“No, this virus is not going to go away,” he said. “Hopefully, over time, we will learn to live with it, and we will be able to reduce the risk of transmission. But it’s going to stay as a background problem to the country, and around the world, until we have a vaccine.”