• "We can't stay locked-down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health," Fauci said.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made similar comments earlier this week, telling the Senate there was a risk of "permanent damage" to the economy if states kept strict restrictions in place.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warned that an extended lockdown could cause "irreparable" harm and result in worse health outcomes.

"We can't stay locked-down for such a considerable period of time that you might do irreparable damage and have unintended consequences, including consequences for health," Fauci said in a CNBC interview on Friday.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he supported states taking cautious steps to restore normalcy and lift stay-at-home orders.

"Now is the time, depending upon where you are and what your situation is, to begin to seriously look at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try to get back to some degree of normal," he said.

Fauci's remarks echo those of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier this week. During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Mnuchin said there was a risk of "permanent damage" if states delayed reopening their economies, The New York Times reported .

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Earlier this month, Fauci warned trying to reopen the nation too soon would result in "needless suffering and death."

The amount of new coronavirus infections reported each day has ranged between 18,000 and 26,000 new cases over the past week, per a Times database. The Trump administration has supported efforts to reopen the economy, arguing that it's critical to send Americans back to work and mitigate the fallout.

States have started lifting stay-at-home orders, but Fauci said they should keep social distancing guidelines in place to continue curbing the spread of the virus.

"In general, I think most of the country is doing it in a prudent way," he said. "There are obviously some situations where people might be jumping over that. I just say please proceed with caution if you're going to do that."

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