Philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates believes that America needs six to 10 weeks of “extreme shutdown” of regular life to get a handle on the new coronavirus outbreak (or COVID-19), contradicting comments from President Trump.
“It’s very irresponsible for somebody to suggest we can have the best of both worlds,” the Microsoft co-founder said in an interview with TED on Tuesday. “What we need is an extreme shutdown so that in six to 10 weeks, if things go well, then you can start opening back up.”
Gates noted that while isolation in populated areas — along with widespread testing — is difficult and “disastrous” for the economy, “the sooner you do it in a tough way, the sooner you can undo it.”
‘It’s very tough to say to people … ignore that pile of bodies’
One former government official concurred. “I think the president needs to be listening carefully to our medical professionals,” former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade, later adding: “Once you’ve done that, then it’s perfectly appropriate to listen to the economic side.”
Gates echoed that view without naming Trump specifically.
“There really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people: ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts,’” Gates said. “It’s very hard to tell people when there’s an epidemic spreading… that they should go about things, knowing that their activity is spreading this disease.”