Bill Gates: "US still not taking COVID-19 seriously"

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Bill Gates: U.S. 'sadly' not taking coronavirus 'seriously'

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates warned on Tuesday that U.S. failure to take the coronavirus pandemic "seriously" could have even more dire consequences when the fall brings conditions conducive to further spread of the virus.

"The U.S., sadly, is not taking this seriously," says Gates. "The U.S. opened up while infection rates were still going up."

Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and a top backer of global public health initiatives, said the inadequate response has coincided with warm summer months that naturally reduce the spread of the virus but that a lax approach could prove devastating later in the year.

"The summer is helpful," says Gates, who along with his wife Melinda has donated more than $350 million to the fight against the coronavirus through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "High temperature reduces force of infection, people spend more time outdoors."

The fall could prove challenging, he noted, unless new coronavirus treatments and the wide adoption of personal precautions mitigate the increased risks.

"The fall -- if we didn't have these new innovations coming in, or more people adhering to the face mask regulation," he adds. "Fall could be very tough."

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump falsely stated that much of the U.S. is "corona-free" and defended promoting a version of a viral video that made false claims about the pandemic.

Some governors have pulled back reopening plans in recent weeks amid a surge of cases in the South and West. But others, like Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, have kept bars and indoor dining open despite warnings from the federal government that they increase the likelihood of spread.

As of July 29, coronavirus cases were increasing in 29 states, according to the New York Times. The U.S. leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, with 4.3 million cases and 149,000 deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported.

"This has been a huge tragedy," Gates says. "We need to stop this thing."

Gates, who serves as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, made the remarks to Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in an episode of Yahoo Finance's "Influencers with Andy Serwer," a weekly interview series with leaders in business, politics, and entertainment.

Until 2000, Gates led personal computing giant Microsoft. That year, he and his wife Melinda co-founded their foundation, which now employs nearly 1,500 people and boasts an endowment of $46.8 billion.

Areas spared by the pandemic in its early months will be more vulnerable in the autumn, Gates said.

"Part of the irony is that it's the communities that haven't had it badly who are going to be most at risk in the fall," he says. "We saw in the spring, a lot of cities were saying, 'well, we're not New York.'"

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Comments (56)

Controversial
Jul 30, 2020

Funniest
Jul 30, 2020

what has this country come to. throwing poo at the Big Lebowski

Jul 31, 2020

So this is not really germaine to this thread, but what's the big deal w/ the Big Lebowski anyway? It's got a few funny lines in it but never struck me as a particularly good movie

  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jul 30, 2020

Must be easy to not give a shit about the economy or middle class workers when you're a mega-billionaire

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    • 8
Jul 30, 2020

Let's abolish billionaires so that party members can have nice yachts and summer houses.

Financial Data Science

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  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jul 30, 2020

This 100%. The county where I live has had <20 deaths due to COVID. Yes, you read that correctly. We had a brief lockdown at the start of COVID, but that has ended. Wearing masks is still not required, although recommended in larger stores. The local economy is picking up pace, and people are going back to their normal routine. Those who are high risk can exercise more caution (we do have online delivery, etc). Local leaders should have the power (as now) to make decisions for their constituents.

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  • Intern in IB - Ind
Jul 30, 2020

So if lockdowns and mandatory masks are the end-all be-all, then why is California still in the shitter?

It couldn't possibly have anything to do with population density in cities, not being an island (see NZ), or the fact that the US doesn't pay for people's every expense (causing them to have to go out and work)!

Don't misconstrue my statements as me being a liberal (i'm not). COVID's mortality rate is not worth the 33% hit our GDP took last quarter.

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Jul 30, 2020

lol have you seen how every other country is doing compared to the US? In the EU we are literally all back to normal, everyone is at work, no masks, working out at the gym, going to the bar, yet barely any cases. US screwed the pooch.

Jul 30, 2020

did you forget Spain is in the EU? or is the reporting about them all wrong? not trying to be snarky, I don't know what it's like on the ground there. I've heard Portugal is fine, but Spain is another story

Jul 31, 2020

What are y'all's testing numbers like ?

Most Helpful
Jul 30, 2020

I mean, he's not wrong. We should have treated COVID like a war effort and had unified leadership starting at the helm and deferred to the technocracy for combatting the pandemic but our decision makers are a combination of too stubborn, stupid, or disrespectful enough to our industry experts to think they don't need to adhere to guidelines. Instead our leaders are too busy playing industry experts and then deferring responsibilities to the next guy over calling for states and local rights while criticizing their decision making in the background.

I don't disagree with a level of deferment of responsibility at a state a local level, but leadership and direction starts at the helm. We've never had a unified message and a deferment to experts, a bunch of unchecked egos starting as an example from the top.

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Jul 31, 2020

Well said.

Don't @ me

Jul 30, 2020

I think this speaks to a bigger issue facing America - the declining trust in our institutions. No one trusts the government, the media or the experts.

Jul 30, 2020

You forgot how uneducated people are becoming.

American education system only works for smart & driven people.

Financial Data Science

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  • Developer in RE - Comm
Jul 30, 2020
Bizkitgto:

No one trusts the government, the media or the experts.

But they are happy to trust lunatics, grifters, and discredited doctors.

Jul 30, 2020
Developer in RE - Comm:

discredited doctors.

Might as well as be witch doctors

Financial Data Science

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 30, 2020
Bizkitgto:

I think this speaks to a bigger issue facing America - the declining trust in our institutions. No one trusts the government, the media or the experts.

Exhibit A: Trump. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The state of politics has derailed, which led to a deranged lunatic becoming president, but very fittingly. And now, it's come back to self-manifest in the form of a chaotic response to a world event, as evidenced by our relative inability to manage and deal with it.

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 30, 2020

And, btw, by "our", I mean both politically active groups, because I don't think Trump elected himself, and the binary options means that there is some contribution to who's elected by the other party. The lack of options makes it very easy to come up with a two-pronged explanation for who is in the white house.

Jul 30, 2020

He is right.

The US faced and continues to face a crisis of national scope but we addressed and continue to address the issue with a 50 state solution. There should have been an organized and national effort from the start of this crisis.

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Jul 30, 2020

would you like that much power centralized in one person?

I'm not disagreeing with the premise that coordination is necessary in solving interconnected problems, but my question is this: is the amount of centralized power required to achieve such coordination a desirable government?

Jul 30, 2020

Yes, during a national crisis, I would want the executive branch to coordinate the effort to combat the crisis.

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  • Developer in RE - Comm
Jul 30, 2020

Unquestionably.

One only has to look at the US's failed patchwork pandemic response and compare it to literally every other first world country on the planet to see which tactic is most effective.

We're not talking police state here. A mandatory mask policy, an actual 30-45 day shutdown back in the spring instead of a disjointed partial shutdown that wrecked the economy yet did nothing to stop the spread, and science-backed decision making would have ended this. Hell, doing those three things right now would also end it. America could end the pandemic in our country in under two months from any point it decides to - it just doesn't want to.

The scandal would have been that 1000 people died, not 150,000 and counting.

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Jul 30, 2020

I been going to the gym, out to eat, and to the bars sue me

Jul 30, 2020

you are well on track to get Covid I guess....

Jul 31, 2020

So? Not a big deal

Jul 30, 2020

Wanna know what's sad? I just got back from a 7-day vacation in Tulum + Cancun, MX to unplug (highly-recommended). July 1st marked the day that many Mexican businesses had re-openned since their GOVERNMENT MANDATED 2-month shutdown. At every restaurant, bar and hotel that we ventured, we were immediately met with Purell by a host in mask + face shield at the entrance. After taking our temperature via temperature, we would step into a sanitization tray so that we could not track anything in. If we forgot to wear our mask inside, workers would literally chase us and plead that we put that mask back on. A developing company with 1/3 of our GDP shut-down completely for 2-months to eradicate and arm themselves for the fight to come.

I get back home to Texas and we're setting record COVID-19 numbers. People are not hungry to get back to work because we know another fat stimulus program is about to pass. Just to watch, I'm in a group on Facebook called, "Open Texas!", where there are literally 90,000 people bitching about their civil liberties, the vaccine hoax and how people wearing masks are "the sheeple".

It feels like we're the fat hog getting slaughtered. It's an embarrassing time to be an American.

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Jul 31, 2020

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/testing/international-...
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/17/ups... So in my mind (not a doctor but I play one on TV) there are obviously a few different ways you can look at it. I go back and forth on my quasi-educated conclusions but I think that people with some statistical literacy can come to a reasonable conclusion by looking at the data.
1) If you look at deaths per 100K the US ranks 10th behind countries like Belgium, UK, Spain, Italy, and Sweden, and just ahead of France.
2) If you look at case fatality, the US actually has a lower rate than most developed countries including Finland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Canada.
3) If you look at the second link, the US is testing at a higher rate per million population than any other country, and if often cases, far more than other developed countries (~2x the rate of Canada for example). The US is higher than a lot of those countries in terms of test positives at ~6.25% but who knows if that could be a law of large numbers.
4) In the Times article, you can see that 59% of US citizens say that they wear a mask EVERY time they go outside. The interesting thing here is that we're 4% behind Germany but a lot higher than a lot of the countries that are seeing less cases. I think this more illustrates the fact that a majority of Americans are taking it seriously, especially when only 14% of Americans say they never wear a mask and the aforementioned countries all have much higher instances.

Do I think that the US could've handled this better? Absolutely, a lot of the other comments on this post propose some solutions that could have made a difference early on. But do I think we're not taking it seriously? No. BLUF: Listen to the experts. I wear my mask, I wash my hands, I don't go to large gatherings. When the data changes, and the experts change their opinions, I will change mine.

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  • Developer in RE - Comm
Jul 31, 2020
Army Monkey:

Listen to the experts. I wear my mask, I wash my hands, I don't go to large gatherings.

The problem is, it doesn't matter if you and I do it, when so many people either don't care or think the whole thing is a hoax.

Jul 31, 2020

For sure. I also think there's an issue with people who want to stay shut down forever, which could very well be a larger population than the anti-maskers, just based off the Times article. Again, I don't have all the answers but I think it's important to shed light on the reality of the situation with zero narrative behind it.

Jul 31, 2020

The more important question I don't see is how can Seoul and Tokyo (so much closer to the source) control this infection but US can't?

Is the data being misrepresented? With something this big, almost certainly

  • Developer in RE - Comm
Jul 31, 2020

Not sure why you immediately go to "the data is being misrepresented" as if it's some conspiracy.

Seoul and Tokyo are cities in countries with competent governments who follow science instead of politics and are made up of people with a sense of social responsibility. That is why they can better control the infection, both the initial spread and subsequent flare ups.

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Jul 31, 2020

They're already mask wearing cultures as well so I think it's likely they didn't have to be told to wear a mask by the government and started doing it as soon as they got concerned.

Jul 31, 2020
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Jul 31, 2020