Anthony Fauci Warns Lockdown Protesters That Opening Prematurely Will ‘Backfire’

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens during the daily coronavirus briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Over the weekend, numerous states saw protests against stay-at-home orders, as people call for state governors to ease social isolation restrictions put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus. But Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning protesters that reopening the economy too early will “backfire.”

He appeared on Good Morning America — a video of which can be seen below — and spoke with George Stephanopoulos about the protests and when the economy might be right for reopening.

He told the GMA host that — as much as people may want to get back to their lives — it won’t be possible as long as the virus is still able to spread rapidly. Experts say this means ample nationwide testing and, eventually, a vaccination, need to be put in place before states should consider easing restrictions. The respected immunologist also responded to protestors who called for his firing.

“If you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,” he said. “So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire [if you reopen prematurely]. That’s the problem.”

Stephanopoulos also asked Fauci about the availability of tests. The doctor responded that — while testing is still a problem, and states are saying they don’t have the tools they need to test people — the number of kits needed to test countrywide are available.

Right now, the U.S. is conducting about 1.5 to 2 million tests per week, but Fauci said the country likely needs to be doing two or three times that many before the economy can reopen fully.

“I think the message is that, clearly, this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics, from the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus,” Fauci said. “But unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery, economically, is not going to happen.”

He added that the federal government and the states need to work more closely together in order to fully utilize the tests that are available and prepare for a nationwide opening.

He also clarified that experts aren’t sure that those who have had the novel coronavirus are certain to be immune to future infections, something that will need to be addressed before a plan can be constructed for returning life back to normal.

States like Minnesota, Virginia, Utah, and Colorado have all experienced protests, with groups of people gathering in cars and in person at state capitol buildings and governors’ homes to express their anger at the stay-at-home orders, asserting they are unnecessary and harming people economically.