Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on the coronavirus, said this week that Americans could be dealing with strict social distancing measures to combat the coronavirus for 18 months and that the U.S. "will not be able to return to normalcy until we find a vaccine or effective medications."
Emanuel, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, is on the Biden campaign's "Public Health Advisory Committee," which is set up to "provide science-based, expert advice regarding steps the campaign should take to minimize health risks for the candidate, staff, and supporters," according to a March press release.
His comments are partially consistent with statements from the Trump administration's medical advisors and federal government documents on the pandemic. But they seem to paint a more grim picture of the country's ability to roll back shutdowns of businesses and public life in general that are aimed at reducing the spread of the virus, which causes the disease known as COVID-19.
"Realistically, COVID-19 will be here for the next 18 months or more. We will not be able to return to normalcy until we find a vaccine or effective medications," Emanuel said Monday on MSNBC's "Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell."
"I know that's dreadful news to hear," the Biden adviser continued. "How are people supposed to find work if this goes on in some form for a year and a half? Is all that economic pain worth trying to stop COVID-19? The truth is we have no choice. ... We cannot return to normal until there's a vaccine. Conferences, concerts, sporting events, religious services, dinner in a restaurant, none of that will resume until we find a vaccine, a treatment, or a cure."
He added: "We need to prepare ourselves for this to last 18 months or so and for the toll that it will take."
The stark warning from Emanuel seems to contrast with Tuesday night comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the face of the White House's coronavirus response. He predicted that American students would be able to return to school this fall even if the virus is still lingering.