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the coronavirus crisis

Fauci says earlier coronavirus lockdown would have saved lives

Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said there was "a lot of pushback" to the idea of enacting federal social distancing guidelines in February, and "you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that."

Speaking to CNN's Jake Tapper, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said what goes into making such a major decision is "complicated," adding that "if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it might have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then."

The White House issued social distancing guidelines on March 16, and when asked by Tapper what took so long, Fauci responded: "As I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint. We made a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it's not. ... It is what it is. We are where we are right now."

Fauci also told Tapper it's "difficult" to predict when social distancing guidelines could be relaxed, explaining that it's "going to be depending where you are in the country, the nature of the outbreak that you have already experienced, and the threat of an outbreak that you may not have experienced. So it's going to have to look at the situation in different parts of the country." There are more than 530,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and at least 20,486 Americans have died from the virus.