(WASHINGTON) — Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is confident the federal government is doing everything that needs to be done to contain the novel coronavirus in an interview on ABC’s This Week.
“Right now, Jon, yes. Absolutely,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl on Sunday.
The administration has moved towards extreme mitigation efforts to blunt the rising number of cases, which provides U.S. hospitals time to prepare for a surge in patients.
“You’ve got to be almost overreacting a bit to keep up with it,” Fauci said of the restrictions being introduced by the federal government to contain the outbreak.
When pressed by Karl on whether the U.S. health care system was prepared for the worst-case scenario, Fauci acknowledged the 13,000 ventilators in the national stockpile may not be enough.
“People need to understand that things will get worse before they get better,” Fauci said. “What we’re trying to do is to make sure they don’t get to the worst-case scenario.”
On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency as the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases and deaths increased. He had previously announced a U.S. travel ban for parts of Europe.
Vice President Mike Pence, along with members of the White House coronavirus task force, said on Saturday that the U.S. would expand the travel ban currently in place for parts of Europe to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Domestic travel restrictions are likely not in the immediate future but are possible, Fauci said Sunday on This Week.
“Travel restrictions within the country have not been seriously discussed,” he said.
“I don’t see that right now in the immediate future,” Fauci said Sunday but added that the administration remains “open-minded about whatever it takes to preserve the health of the American public.”
But the administration’s policy left U.S. airports scrambling Saturday as they struggled to implement the administration’s new enhanced medical screenings for travelers.
As of Sunday morning, there were more than 2,900 confirmed cases in the U.S. and at least 59 coronavirus-related deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and ABC News reporting. Globally, there are over 156,000 infected and over 5,800 deaths.
In response to a question about what Fauci was personally doing to protect himself, he said, “I’m practicing as much social distancing as I possibly can.”
He added that he was also trying to get the president to adopt similar measures that could help to slow the spread of the virus.
“I’m working on getting the boss to do this,” Fauci said of social distancing. “I may not be successful, but we’re working on it.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.