PHOTO CREDITS: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates believes a return to “normal” life is further down the road for the US than people expect, despite a Covid-19 vaccine being approved and distributed this week.
Conceding that by the summer of 2021, the US should be “way closer to normal than we are now,” Gates, who has donated millions to vaccination efforts through his foundation, believes a full return to normal will likely not be possible until after 2022. The billionaire told CNN on Sunday that “unless we help other countries get rid of this disease” and see “high vaccination rates” within the US, the “risk of reintroduction” will be possible. “Big public gatherings” should continue to be banned and most bars and restaurants around the country should “sadly” be closed to curb infection rates, according to Gates. A real return to normal, he theorized, is possible only after 12 to 18 months “if we manage it well.”
Gates also expressed concern about President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to concede the presidential election, which he claims is “complicating” vaccine distribution. “The transition is complicating [things,] but the new administration is willing to rely on actual experts and not attack those experts,” the tech mogul said in a swipe at the president. Gates did not specify what “complications” are possible. A vaccine has already been approved by both the FDA and CDC and begun distribution (RT).
“But even through early 2022, unless we help other countries get rid of this disease, and we get high vaccination rates in our country, the risk of reintroduction will be there and, of course, the global economy will be slowed down, which hurts America economically in a pretty dramatic way,” he added. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently pledged an additional $250 million in the fight against COVID-19, marking the organization’s single largest contribution to date. According to the foundation, the donation brings its total commitment to the global COVID-19 response to $1.75 billion.
Gates’ comment prompted a response from some critics on the right, including former Acting Director of U.S. National Intelligence Richard Grenell, the Daily Caller and Georgia congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who claim its easy for Gates to say when he’s worth over $118 billion. “He does not care about small businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms,” Greene said. “Over 99% of people under age 60 (the health working class & kids in school) SURVIVE covid. This is insanity that will devastate people’s lives.”
A report by the National Restaurant Association found that at least 10,000 restaurants have closed nationwide in the last three months alone, bringing the total to more than 110,000. According to a survey of 6,000 restaurant operators, 87% of full-service restaurants saw a 36% drop in sales and 83% said they expect the coming winter months to be “even worse,” with 58% anticipating layoffs and furloughs on the horizon. Of the restaurants that have already closed, an estimated 17% had served their communities for an average of 16 years, and 16% had been running for at least 30 years.
“What these findings make clear is that more than 500,000 restaurants of every business type — franchise, chain and independent — are in an unprecedented economic decline,” wrote the group’s executive vice president, Sean Kennedy, in a letter to Congress. “And for every month that passes without a solution from Congress, thousands more restaurants across the country will close their doors for good.” Kennedy warned that “the restaurant industry simply cannot wait for relief any longer” and urged lawmakers to pass the Senate’s version of the bipartisan RESTAURANTS Act as a “down payment” before passing a larger COVID-19 stimulus package in early 2021 (Fox Business).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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