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Zuckerberg warns of potential impact of reopening public spaces too soon

The Facebook executive says lifting restrictions too soon will ‘almost guarantee’ worse economic outcomes

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned that lifting stay-at-home restrictions too early could have public health effects that would likely prolong the economic toll of the coronavirus outbreak. 

On the company’s first quarter earnings call, Zuckerberg said reopening public spaces too soon “almost guarantees” future spikes in illnesses and a worsening of the virus’ economic impact.

“While there are massive societal costs from the current shelter-in-place restrictions, I worry that reopening certain places too quickly before inaction rates have been reduced to very minimal levels will almost guarantee future outbreaks and worsen longer-term health and economic outcomes,” Zuckerberg said on the call, according to CNBC.

“The impact on our business has been significant, and I remain very concerned that this health emergency and therefore the economic fallout will last longer than people are currently anticipating.”

Easing restrictions 

White House officials recently stated that they are now focusing on working with governors to figure out the safest path toward reopening businesses and public spaces that were temporarily closed due to COVID-19. 

President Trump said Wednesday that social distancing guidelines will be “fading out” and that he is "very much in favor” of what governors who are easing lockdowns are doing. 

States including Georgia, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have decided to allow consumers back into places of business and other public settings that have chosen to reopen. 

Earlier this month, the Trump administration and the CDC unveiled a three-phase plan that provides guidelines for when states might reopen. However, states must decide on their own when to begin reopening. 

There are currently more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Like Zuckerberg, public health officials have also expressed concern that easing social distancing guidelines too soon could lead to a surge in new cases. 

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