Bill Gates says coronavirus pandemic is 'more bleak' than he expected

The US is "not even close" to doing enough, says Gates.

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Alexandra is an associate editor on CNET's Performance Optimization team. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, and interned with CNET's Tech and News teams while in school. Prior to joining CNET full time, Alexandra was a breaking news fellow at Newsweek, where she covered current events and politics.
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Bill Gates says the high number of coronavirus cases in the US is due to lack of testing and contact tracing, as well as resistance to wear face masks.  

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Microsoft co-founder  Bill Gates says the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the US and worldwide is "more bleak" than he expected. During an appearance at a coronavirus town hall Thursday night on CNN, Gates said the fact that so many people are still dying in the US shows that the country is "not even close" to doing enough to stop the virus. 

"It's possible to ramp up testing for a new pathogen very, very fast," Gates told hosts Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. "In fact, a number of countries did that extremely well in this case and the technology keeps getting better there. The US in particular hasn't had the leadership messages or coordination that you would have expected." 

As of Friday, there are more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and more than 124,000 people have died, according to John Hopkins University. Worldwide, more than 9.6 million people have contracted the coronavirus and more than 490,000 of them have died.

Gates attributes the large numbers to a lack of testing and contact tracing, as well as the resistance to wearing face masks. 

"The range of behaviors in the US right now, some people being very conservative in what they do, and some people ignoring the epidemic, is huge," Gates said. "Some people almost feel like it's a political thing, which is unfortunate." 

Gate, who funds medical research and vaccine programs through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has become a target for coronavirus misinformation amid the pandemic. 

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An analysis done by The New York Times and media watcher Zignal Labs in April found that misinformation about Gates was the most widespread of all coronavirus-related falsehoods. A survey published in May found that a false conspiracy theory about Gates using a future COVID-19 vaccine to implant people with tracking microchips had gained traction among Fox News viewers, Republicans and Trump voters.

Gates has dismissed such conspiracy theories, saying it's "almost hard to deny this stuff because it's so stupid or strange."