Bill Gates on coronavirus: We need an ‘extreme shutdown’ of 6 to 10 weeks

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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.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06: Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)
Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 06, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)

President Donald Trump recently argued that restrictions should be loosened by Easter Sunday, April 12, with healthy people returning to work while people who are sick remain isolated.

“The expression ‘We can do two things at one time,’ … and that includes not just economics, that also includes life and death,” Trump said. “We have to keep it that way.”

The U.S. stock market and economy have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. And the financial situation is becoming increasingly problematic for millions of Americans as unemployment claims rose to an historic 3.2 million for the week that ended March 21.

Trump asserted that the U.S. “wasn’t built to be shut down. This is not a country that was built for this,” adding: “America will again and soon be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting.”


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