America’s top infectious disease expert said Thursday he doesn’t understand why every state hasn’t issued stay-at-home orders as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the US.

“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told Anderson Cooper during CNN’s coronavirus town hall.

Fauci also stressed the dangers of relaxing social distancing guidelines too early. “If you back off, and you don’t mitigate, there is a possibility that number (of deaths) will go up.” He later added, “And that’s the reason why I am so adamant about when we say we have got to follow those guidelines, you really got to take it seriously.”


On Wednesday, Donald Trump once again refused to encourage a nationwide shutdown, saying different states had varying levels of the pandemic.

‘States are different and I understand that the governor of Florida, great Gov. Ron DeSantis issued one today and that’s good, that’s great. But there are some states that are different. There are some states that don’t have much of a problem,’ Trump said in the White House briefing. ‘You have to look — you have to give a little flexibility. If you have a state in the Midwest, or if Alaska for example doesn’t have a problem, it’s awfully tough to say close it down. We have to have a little bit of flexibility.’

Even if he were to heed the advice from experts like Dr. Fauci, it is unclear whether Trump has the authority to direct a nationwide shelter-in-place or curfew order.  The President has vast leeway during times of crisis, and Trump has not shied away from wielding his wide interpretation of executive authority.  But even if such an order were nothing more than symbolic, it could persuade countless of his supporters, some of whom have been skeptical of medical advice related to COVID-19, to adhere to social distancing measures — and consequently save countless lives.