KEY POINTS

  • Protests against stay-at-home orders sprung up around the country last week
  • Dr. Fauci warned these protests would "backfire"
  • Polling shows that most Republicans approve of a national stay-at-home order

The top government official on infectious diseases warned that the protests against states’ stay-at-home orders in the face of the coronavirus pandemic will “backfire,” and actually delay reopening the economy.

Appearing on "Good Morning America," Dr. Anthony Fauci said: “Clearly this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics and the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus, but unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not going to happen.” Fauci is a member of the White House coronavirus task force and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Protests have been reported across several states against the lockdown orders in place even as state governors have pushed back against President Donald Trump's assertion that the states were not conducting enough tests.  On Sunday, taking heed of their complaints, Trump said he would use the Defense Production Act to ramp up the production of test swabs.

The President has defended the protesters in the U.S., and even made inflammatory tweets to "liberate" Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. He also said he believes some governors have gone too far with the restrictions.

Several other world cities have seen similar protests as the extended lockdowns hurt businesses and livelihoods.  

Fauci continued, highlighting the dynamic at the heart of this issue, saying “So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back. So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire. That’s the problem.”

The U.S. has so far recorded more than 760,000 cases of coronavirus including more than 40,000 deaths, according to data compiled by the John Hopkins University.

While many Americans came out to protest governors’ stay at home orders last week, those may not be as spontaneous as reports suggest. A report by The Guardian reveals that “while organizers claim the protests are grassroots- and people-driven, a closer look reveals a movement driven by traditional rightwing groups, including one funded by the family of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.”

The bespectacled Anthony Fauci is one of President Donald Trump's point people on the coronavirus crisis -- and has become something of a pop culture icon The bespectacled Anthony Fauci is one of President Donald Trump's point people on the coronavirus crisis -- and has become something of a pop culture icon Photo: AFP / MANDEL NGAN

The Michigan Freedom Fund, which said they were a co-host of the rally outside Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office last week, has received more than $500,000 from the DeVos family, who regularly donate to right-wing political groups.

The Washington Post revealed that “A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country,” and that “online activity instigated by the [trio of] brothers helps cement the impression that opposition to the restrictions is more widespread than polling suggests.”

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 81% of voters say they would support a national stay at home order, with 70% of Republicans agreeing. In a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, only 10% of Americans think we “should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy, even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus,” with 72% of Republicans supporting social distancing measures.

Figures like these indicate that the favorable media coverage of the protests notwithstanding, it could be a relatively small minority of Republicans who want to reopen the economy before experts like Fauci advise to.