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Asked what it would look like when communities start opening up again, Bill Gates said: “Which activities have, like schools, have such benefit and can be done in a way that the risk of transmission is very low? And which activities like mass gatherings may be, in a certain sense, more optional. And so until you’re widely vaccinated, those may not come back at all.”
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, whose charitable foundation has long focused on public-health initiatives, has emerged as a prominent voice in public discussions about how to combat the new coronavirus. But a recent blog post misrepresents his statements about recovering from the current crisis.
The headline of an April 9 blog post on the website Pulpit & Pen says: "Church services can’t resume until we’re all vaccinated, says Bill Gates."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The blog goes on to say that "Gates now argues that ‘mass gatherings’ (churches) will not meet again until a vaccine is found and everyone is vaccinated."
The post links to an April 2 story on MyNorthwest.com about an interview Gates gave to "CBS This Morning." In the interview, according to CBS, Gates called for a nationwide social isolation policy to slow the pandemic’s spread.
"It’ll help everyone get out of this more quickly and reduce the deaths and reduce the economic reduction," Gates said, "if we implement these strong isolation measures on a countrywide basis."
We listened to the nearly 30-minute interview and we didn’t hear Gates mention churches. Rather, he says that the government needs to prioritize testing, and talks about when a vaccine could be ready for COVID-19 and when communities could open back up. He said that he expects that by the end of April some regions will see the number of COVID-19 cases plateau and then decrease.
"We understand what needs to be done here, it’s going to be very painful, but taking the pain early means there’s a lot less pain both medically and economically than if we dilly-dally and wait until every town has big numbers before we react," he said.
He then speculated about what opening up would look like.
"Which activities have, like schools, have such benefit and can be done in a way that the risk of transmission is very low? And which activities like mass gatherings may be, in a certain sense, more optional. And so until you’re widely vaccinated, those may not come back at all," he said.
When "CBS This Morning" co-host Anthony Mason asked Gates if life will ever be the same, Gates said, "not for some time."
What he doesn’t say? That church services can’t resume until we’re all vaccinated.
Considering what the world will look like as regions slow the spread of the coronavirus and people start to resume their lives, Gates suggests that some mass gatherings may not come back before enough people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
But Gates doesn’t specify that this means "church" gatherings, nor does he have any power to forbid church services "until we’re all vaccinated," as the post says. In the interview he mentions talking to pharmaceutical companies and federal agencies about how to collaborate on a vaccine, but he doesn’t imply that he has control over what policies the government could adopt with respect to such gatherings.
We rate this blog headline False.
Pulpit & Pen, Church services can’t resume until we’re all vaccinated, says Bill Gates, April 9, 2020
PolitiFact, Bill Gates warned in 2015 that we were unprepared for an infectious virus, March 25, 2020
MyNorthwest, Bill Gates: Mass gatherings might not return until we get coronavirus vaccine, April 2, 2020
CBS This Morning, Bill Gates calls for nationwide social ioslation policy to slow coronavirus spread, April 2, 2020
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