Bill Gates predicts that global COVID-19 restrictions could last until 2022, with the first four to six months of 2021 the “worst of the epidemic” in the U.S.
The Microsoft founder and business magnate gave the stark warning as the country set records for confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths over a seven-day period.
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Dec. 13, Gates also warned that there could be more than 200,000 new COVID-19 deaths over the next few months. But most of those deaths could be avoided by following protocols like wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, added Gates.
“So in the near term, it’s bad news.”
Gates expressed his support for controversial coronavirus restrictions, such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new regional lockdowns that took effect on Dec. 6. The lockdown orders drew criticism, with a few small business owners going on strike to protest the orders.
Bar and restaurant owners were hit hardest by the lockdowns, which included a ban on outdoor dining. Most small, independent food establishments have been relying on outdoor dining to keep their doors open.
Nonetheless, Gates said it’s only “appropriate” that bars and restaurants throughout the country be closed as the new wave approaches. “[You] don’t want somebody that you love to be the last to die from coronavirus.”
When asked when he believes the U.S. will be back to normal, Gates said the country would be closer to normal by summer. But unless other countries get rid of the disease and people get vaccinated, Gates said the risk of reintroduction of COVID-19 will still be there.
Gates quickly garnered much criticism on social media for his remarks. In a tweet, former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell said that both Tapper and Gates have “large paychecks.”
Meanwhile, Majorie Greene, who now represents Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, said that Gates does not care about small businesses like bars, restaurants and gyms given his net worth.
Greene added that more than 99 percent of people under the age of 60, which comprise most of the working class, survive COVID-19. “This is insanity that will devastate people’s lives,” she wrote.
Reports show that small business owners in parts of California, which has some of the strictest lockdowns in the U.S., have been defying orders and going on strike to avoid debt.
One restaurant owner in Los Angeles County posted a video on social media when she saw that a production crew had set up tents and tables just a few feet from her restaurant’s closed outdoor dining area.
Bill Gates isn’t the only big name recently making predictions. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said late in November that the U.S. is entering a difficult period.
He added that lockdown orders and travel restrictions would be necessary for the holiday season to ensure that the virus does not spread further.