‘I’m not against releasing the restrictions,’ says Dr. Anthony Fauci, of areas of U.S. with low rates of coronavirus infection

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is “not against releasing restrictions” in certain parts of the country.

Fauci also said the country could experience “between 100,000 and 200,000” deaths and “millions of cases” of coronavirus. But he added “I don’t want to be held to that” because the pandemic is “such a moving target.”

Loosening restrictions would mean reopening schools and other businesses that were forced to close as a result of strict social-distancing measures. It would be dangerous, however, to remove some of the restrictions unless there is adequate testing to get “people out of circulation who are infected,” said Fauci, a key expert serving on the White House’s coronavirus task force.

“If you release the restrictions, before you have a good eyeball on what’s going on there, you’re going to get in trouble,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “So I’m not against releasing the restrictions — I’m actually for it in an appropriate place — but I don’t recommend that unless we have the tools in place.”

This comes as President Donald Trump floated the notion Saturday of a mandatory enforceable quarantine in New York City and much of the surrounding tri-state area only to have the idea called unworkable by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Instead the administration issued a travel advisory Saturday night urging people to refrain from all nonessential travel in the region.

Fauci said he had not wanted Trump to issue an enforceable quarantine, saying that it “would be a bigger difficulty, morale- and otherwise.”

Some 56% of all of the new infections in the country are coming from the greater New York City area, now deemed the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, Fauci said. As of Sunday morning, there were more than 32,308 cases of coronavirus in New York City. That accounts for more than half of the state’s 52,318 total cases, according to data from the New York Department of Health.

“What you don’t want is people traveling from that area to other areas of the country, and inadvertently and innocently infecting other individuals. We felt the better part of way to do this would be a advisory, as opposed to a very strict quarantine.”

Social-distancing measures to “flatten the curve,” or rein in the rapid spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, first identified late last year in China, have had a direct negative impact on the U.S. economy. Restaurants, hotels and other small business that rely on foot-traffic have been forced layoff workers.

Read: Emerency-loan program for small businesses will be up and running this week, say Kudlow and Mnuchin

The most recent jobless-claims data showed that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week. Loosening the restrictions that are now in place would allow more people to return to work but could, warn public health experts, cost lives.

See: A loophole for construction workers shows how confusing ‘stay at home’ regulations are

That’s partially why Fauci said he is in favor of lifting restrictions only once there is evidence from widespread that shows the risk is relatively minimal. “We don’t neglect other areas of the country, where it looks like they’re just relatively few infections, because we have a window of opportunity there to get out there and test.”

Across the country, COVID-19 had infected at least 124,763 people in the U.S. by Sunday morning, exceeding the number of confirmed cases in both China and Italy, and killed at least 2,191, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

Read on: Trump wants his signature to appear on coronavirus stimulus checks

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‘Welcome to the shore, now go home!’ — New Yorkers fleeing to surrounding areas get blasted by locals

Stay at home? Not the Manhattan elite.

With coronavirus bringing New York City to a virtual standstill, those with the means to get out of town are reportedly doing just that. And apparently it’s only making matters worse.

The White House Coronavirus Task Force on Tuesday said that a flare-up of coronavirus infections on Long Island in recent days suggests that New Yorkers on the move have spread the virus, and it urged those who have left the city to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Of course, there’s little doubt that there are many on the move.

For instance, the population of Southampton, an area of several villages in Long Island, has seen its population surge to an estimated 100,000 over the past couple of weeks, from just 60,000.

“I would prefer that if you are coming from New York City, a hot spot, you stay there,” Jay Schneiderman, chairman of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, told the New York Times. “I can’t stop you, but we’d love people to heed the advice of the CDC and stay home.”

The same sentiment could be heard from frustrated locals in the Catskills, the Hamptons and southern New Jersey, where the popular “Welcome to the shore — now go home” bumper sticker takes on a more urgent meaning. Basically, don’t bring your problems to us.

Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini, who said his little town has tripled in size from 15,000 residents to 45,000, packaged it in much more friendly terms.

“We all love the summer people,” he said. “They drive our economy. But when they come down here now, the services here aren’t geared up for them.”

Less-measured messages have echoed across social media in recent days, as well:

One Catskills Facebook page joined the growing chorus.

“The only cases in Greene County were brought here from downstate people so stay down there,” one man wrote in a post cited by the New York Times. “Just because you have a second home up here doesn’t mean you have the right to put us at risk.”

Greene County’s website said it has “NO hospital!” and told prospective travelers that visiting “from any area at this time is inadvisable and is highly discouraged.”

In the tony Hamptons, tensions are rising between the year-rounders and the summer super-rich who are coming out social distancing, and maybe even social climbing, in their seaside estates.

“There’s not a vegetable to be found in this town right now,” one resident told the New York Post. “It’s these elitist people who think they don’t have to follow the rules.” Another said perhaps it’s time to “blow up the bridges” to keep them out.

And they just keep coming. With some pretty wild demands.

Real estate agent Dylan Eckardt said he’s gotten calls from diplomats and CEO types, including one who said he’d pay anything for a nine-bedroom house with a pool and a tennis court.

“I found him a house that’s a little over 15,000 square feet — $150,000 for 50 days,” Eckardt told the Wall Street Journal, adding that the new tenant brought his own cleaning crew. They spent eight hours in zip-up suits basically sterilizing the house.

It’s not just in the New York area, either. Here’s a not-so-friendly message from Florida, which has seen a steady influx of visitors looking to ride this thing out in warmer weather.

Fear of the spreading virus is understandable considering the latest stats. As of Wednesday night, there were nearly 66,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. with 926 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. New York state is home to about half of the overall number of cases.

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