Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, questioned why the Trump administration has not imposed a nationwide stay-at-home order in an interview with CNN.
Fauci was asked whether all states should be “on the same page” in terms of social distancing and closing schools and non-essential businesses.
"I don't understand why that's not happening," said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"As you said, you know, the tension between 'federal mandated' versus 'states rights' to do what they want is something that I don't want to get into," he said. "But if you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that. We really should be."
Surgeon General pushes back:
Surgeon General Jerome Adams took a different point of view, defending the administration’s decision to let each state decide how to handle the deadly pandemic.
"We live in a nation that has a system of federalism, and the governors get to make the decisions," he told NBC News. "But we're going to give them the best possible guidelines we can, and that's to stay at home and to social distance."
But Fauci rejected that argument during an interview with NBC on Thursday.
"It's one of those things that in our country, there still is that issue of central government versus the ability and the right of a state to make their own decision," he said.
Some states reverse course:
Texas, Florida, and Georgia were among the biggest states that refused to issue stay-at-home orders but all three Republican governors changed their minds this week as the numbers grew progressively worse.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp claimed that he changed his mind because he just learned that asymptomatic people can transmit the virus even though top medical officials have been saying that for months.
"Individuals can be infected and begin to spread coronavirus earlier than previously thought, even if they had no symptoms. From a public health standpoint, this is a revelation and a game-changer,” Kemp said. "Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad. We didn't know that until the last 24 hours."
But Fauci warned about just this as early as January.
"There's no doubt . . . that asymptomatic transmission is occurring," he warned, citing a “study [that] lays the question to rest."