Bill Gates said the US missed its chance to avoid a coronavirus shutdown and recommended businesses stay closed for 6 to 10 weeks

tsonnemaker@businessinsider.com (Tyler Sonnemaker)
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

  • Bill Gates said the US missed its chance to contain COVID-19 without mandatory shutdowns, according to CNBC.

  • "We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown," Gates said during a Ted Connects virtual event Tuesday.

  • While admitting the "disastrous" economic impact, according to CNBC, Gates reiterated his previous suggestion that the shutdown should last six to 10 weeks.

  • Gates also called on the US to improve its testing capacity and strategy.

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America has missed its chance to contain the coronavirus without mandatory shutdowns, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said in an interview Tuesday, according to CNBC.

"The US is past this opportunity to control (COVID-19) without shutdown," Gates said during a virtual TED Connects event, CNBC reported. "We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown," Gates added.

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The US has become the third-worst-hit country in the world, with nearly 600 deaths and nearly 50,000 confirmed cases reported across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and at least three US territories.

Those numbers, however, are likely to climb as the US continues to ramp up its testing efforts — which have been woefully behind those of other countries.

"In terms of testing, we're still not creating that capacity and applying it to people in need," Gates said, according to CNBC, reaffirming earlier comments Gates made about testing in the US not being organized enough.

More state and local governments have begun telling residents to remain in their homes in recent weeks, with one in three Americans now under "stay at home" orders. But Gates said the time to take such measures was back in January, according to CNBC.

Gates also said that, despite a potentially "disastrous" impact on the economy, the shutdowns should last for six to 10 weeks, CNBC reported. That timeline echoes Gates' previous comments about the steps other countries should take to contain the virus

On Monday, President Trump went on a Twitter spree urging the US economy to go back to business as usual within 15 days, despite most public health experts — including Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top officials on the Trump administration's coronavirus task force — advising against lifting the containment measures to reopen the economy, predicting that the outbreak could last for several months.

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