“ ‘If we do the social distancing properly we should be able to get out of this with the death numbers well short of that.’ ”
That’s Microsoft MSFT, -0.92% co-founder Bill Gates referring to the projections that the U.S. could ultimately see as many as 240,000 deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“If we had kept on going to work, traveling like we were, that curve would never bend until you’d had the majority of people infected,” Gates told Fox News Sunday, adding that while this is a “nightmare scenario,” social-distancing should have infections level off by the end of April.
“It’s very important that those numbers are out there because a lot of people are still thinking ‘hey, isn’t life normal,’ not waking up every day to a completely new reality,” he added, praising Dr. Anthony Fauci for “doing a very good job of saying ‘the numbers are what count here.’”
As for a second wave, Gates said, yes, the virus could very well come back in the fall, but by then we will be better prepared for treatments and a vaccine won’t be too far behind at that point.
“Some jobs will resume, school will partially resume, but we’ll have to be very, very careful not to have the rebound until the vaccine comes,” he added.
Last week, Gates, in a Washington Post op-ed, urged the government to enforce a nationwide shutdown, warning that the fact some states aren’t taking that action is problematic.
“Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely,” he said. “In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus.”
There are now 1.22 million cases of COVID-19 and 65,884 deaths worldwide, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. continues to show the highest number of cases at 312,249 with 8,503 fatalities. New York state remains the pandemic’s epicenter in the U.S.