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April 1, 2020, 6:41 p.m. EDT

‘Shutdown everywhere’ for at least 10 weeks? Bill Gates warns there’s ‘no middle ground’ in the coronavirus fight

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By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch


Getty Images
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates

‘Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere.’

That’s Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -1.06% founder Bill Gates urging the government to enforce a nationwide shutdown in an op-ed in the Washington Post this week.

“Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely,” he said. “In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus.”

He explained that until the numbers start to go down across the country — which he says could take at least 10 weeks — the shutdown should be in play everywhere. He also stepped up his call for more testing and was hopeful a vaccine will be developed in less than 18 months.

As it stands now, at least 30 states have stay-at-home orders in place with some 250 million Americans told to remain sheltered and maintain social-distancing measures.

Dispatches from a pandemic: ‘Would you risk your life for a bagel?’ A New Yorker’s 5-point guide to surviving grocery stores during the coronavirus pandemic

Gates’s latest comments echo those made in a recent TED interview.

‘There really is no middle ground, and it’s very tough to say to people, “Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, [and] ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner,’” he said, taking aim at politicians who seem to think GDP growth is all that counts.

The Gates Foundation ponied up $100 million to assist in the battle against the spread of coronavirus in February after committing to $10 million in January when the outbreak started.

President Trump warned Americans this week to brace for a “rough two-week period” as the White House released grim new projections for as many as 240,000 deaths even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. “I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” he said. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”

The uncertainty was reflected in the stock market Wednesday, with the Dow /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +2.17% , S&P /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.23% and tech-heavy Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.17% all deep in the red, at last check, but stocks recovered some lost ground Thursday as President Trump expressed optimism that a damaging price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia can be resolved and after a report China is building its stockpiles.

/zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 181.57
-1.94 -1.06%
Volume: 36.07M
May 26, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
30.23
Dividend Yield
1.12%
Market Cap
$1376.93 billion
Rev. per Employee
$902,473
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/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime
US : Dow Jones Global
24,995.11
+529.95 +2.17%
Volume: 426.29M
May 26, 2020 5:20p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime
US : S&P US
2,991.77
+36.32 +1.23%
Volume: 3.36B
May 26, 2020 5:20p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
9,340.22
+15.63 +0.17%
Volume: 4.13M
May 26, 2020 5:16p
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Shawn Langlois is an editor and writer for MarketWatch in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @slangwise.

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