Bill Gates says the U.S. missed its chance to avoid a coronavirus shutdown

It’s too late to avoid a coronavirus shutdown.

That’s according to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who said Tuesday that the nation was too slow in its response to the deadly disease, known officially as COVID-19.

Gates said during a livestream interview with Chris Anderson of TED that the U.S. should have started to prepare in January. 

“The U.S. is past this opportunity to control (the coronavirus) without shutdown,” Gates said. “We did not act fast enough to have an ability to avoid the shutdown.”

Gates said more states need to enact shelter-in-place orders or make it a point to close all but essential businesses as a way to quickly “flatten the curve,” a term used by medical experts to describe reducing the spread of the virus to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. 

“It’s disastrous for the economy, but the sooner you do it in a tough way, the sooner you can undo it and go back to normal,” Gates added.

Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

Gates also said the nation needs to do more testing of possible coronavirus patients.

“We’re still not creating that capacity and applying it to people in need,” he added in Tuesday’s interview. “The testing thing has got to be organized, has got to be prioritized. That is super, super urgent.”

This wasn’t the first time Gates has sounded the alarm.

The billionaire took to Reddit last week for an Ask Me Anything session where he addressed how different countries would be affected by the coronavirus and pushed for more testing and the creation of a vaccine.

Earler, in a 2015 TED Talk, Gates explained how the U.S. wasn’t ready for the next epidemic. 

“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said at the time. “We’ve invested very little in a system to stop an epidemic.”

While the coronavirus pandemic isn’t anywhere close to that 10 million mark, the number of confirmed cases and deaths worldwide has increased each day. As of Tuesday, there have been more than 414,000 confirmed cases of the disease globally and over 18,500 confirmed deaths, according to an online dashboard that tracks cases.

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