Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested Thursday that the federal government should impose a nationwide stay-at-home order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.
Asked whether all states have to be “on the same page” in terms of issuing those directives, Fauci told CNN, “I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” and acknowledged the Trump administration’s hesitance to encroach upon local authorities.
“As you said, you know, the tension between ‘federal mandated’ versus ‘states rights’ to do what they want is something that I don’t want to get into,” Fauci said. “But if you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that. We really should be.”
The remarks from the country’s top infectious disease expert represent perhaps the most forceful recommendation yet by an administration official that the federal government implement a sweeping decree limiting Americans’ movements nationwide.
President Donald Trump has thus far left the implementation of such orders up to state and local governments, while his administration has promoted a set of social-distancing guidelines with no enforceable mandate.
But several states still have yet to impose stay-at-home orders despite dire warnings from the federal government that between 100,000 and 240,000 could die from Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, even if the administration’s recommendations are strictly followed.
Members of the White House coronavirus task force have shown reluctance in recent days to explicitly endorse more forceful action by the administration in the form of a federal stay-at-home order, despite their own warnings that the virus will continue its stampede across the country.
“We live in a nation that has a system of federalism, and the governors get to make the decisions,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams told NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday. “But we’re going to give them the best possible guidelines we can, and that’s to stay at home and to social distance.”
Even Fauci was more equivocal Thursday in his support of a stay-at-home order imposed by the administration. “It’s one of those things that in our country, there still is that issue of central government versus the ability and the right of a state to make their own decision,” he told “Today.”
The U.S. is now the global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, reporting more confirmed cases than anywhere else in the world. More than 245,000 Americans have become infected as of Friday morning, and at least 6,058 have died as a result of the disease. Because of limited testing capacity, experts agree the actual number of positive cases is much greater.