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Bill Gates calls for nationwide shutdown to curb coronavirus pandemic

He also says leaders need to stop stoking rumors or panic buying.

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Bill Gates has some advice on how to deal with the pandemic. 

CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had already spoken about the coronavirus pandemic in a Reddit AMA in March. In a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday, he offered more details on how the US can better deal with the fight against COVID-19.  

The co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation suggested three steps for dealing with the health crisis. First, he says, there needs to be a nationwide approach to shutting down.

"The country's leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere," he said Tuesday. "Until the case numbers start to go down across America -- which could take 10 weeks or more -- no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown. Any confusion about this point will only extend the economic pain, raise the odds that the virus will return, and cause more deaths."

His second step focuses on testing. Gates says the federal government needs to step up its efforts to test more people and to prioritize testing starting with medical workers and first responders. That echoes his remarks from his Reddit AMA on March 18 when he called the testing in the US at that point "disorganized." Gates also said the system to purchase personal protective equipment, or PPE, which has governors outbidding each other, is only making matters worse. 

Last, he says there needs to be a "data-based approach to developing treatments and a vaccine." He pointed out how leaders should not be stoking rumors or panic buying, referring to the drug hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine has been touted as a treatment for COVID-19, spurred a rush to purchase it, although it's needed for those who have lupus. 

On Thursday, Gates went on CBS This Morning to reiterate his points and said he thought the country would act more quickly. 

"I thought we would respond a bit faster," he said. "What we're doing, how we're having to change the economy here, in order to drop the number of cases, it's really unprecedented. Even the issue of once you get the case numbers down, what does opening up look like?"

He also noted that very little investment was made to fight pandemics after his 2015 TED Talk about the problem. 

"I think this time, people will understand that this is a trillions-of-dollars event, it's going to be hundreds of thousands of lives on a global basis," he said. "I think people will understand why the alarms were raised and for the next one, we'll be far more ready than we were for this one."

The Gates Foundation committed $100 million for the global response to the coronavirus outbreak back in February. It originally committed to $10 million in January when the outbreak started. 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.