Dr. Fauci hopes America could return to some 'degree of normality' by November presidential election

donald trump anthony fauci
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a news briefing on the administration's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2020.

Reuters/Joshua Roberts

  • After 16 states postponed their primaries over coronavirus concerns, many questions have been raised about how the November presidential election will be impacted.

  • With most of the country under various stay-at-home orders, states have been struggling to balance public health concerns with citizens' ability to vote.

  • During an MSNBC interview, Fauci declined to say whether Americans would have to cast their ballots by mail but said he hopes that America can return to some "degree of normality" by the fall.

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The coronavirus pandemic has largely been derailed 2020 presidential primary season as most of the country has been under varying stay-at-home orders to help curb the virus' spread.

With no clear end in sight to the pandemic, many questions surrounding the November presidential elections also remain unanswered.

On MSNBC's "The 11th Hour," host Brian Williams tried to get answers from one of the country's leading infectious disease experts, Dr. Anthony Fauci, surrounding the possibility of Americans having to cast their ballots this November via mail.

Related: How Long Will Social Distancing Last?

"If you had your way – and I know November to some people seems like a long time from now — would people in all 50 states have the right and ability to vote by mail?" Williams asked Fauci in an interview Friday evening.

While declining to comment about whether Americans would be forced to vote by mail over the coronavirus, noting that it was not his "area of expertise," Fauci said he hoped that the US coronavirus efforts would be effective enough to have "degree of normality" by the time the presidential election rolled around.

"I would hope that by November we would have things under such control that we could have a real degree of normality," Fauci answered.

The US has become a hotspot for the pandemic with over 501,000 confirmed cases and over 18,000 deaths, according to data collected by John Hopkins. With most states under various stay-at-home orders, the coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented issues with one of the US' core pillars of democracy — citizens' ability to elect a president.

Many states are struggling to navigate how to balance public health concerns with ensuring that Americans are able to exercise their right to vote.

So far, 16 states have postponed their primaries as part of widespread lockdown measures to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the New York Times reported. Even the Democratic National Convention was postponed to August over fears of the thousands expected to attend the quadrennial gathering in July in which the Democratic party chooses its presidential nominee.

Any attempts in this election cycle at proceeding as scheduled so far have come under fire.

Wisconsin held their primaries as scheduled on Tuesday after a heated face-off between state democrats and republicans, asking thousands of residents to violate a stay-at-home order to cast their ballots.

Democrats attempted to extend absentee ballots and move the primaries, however, the US Supreme Court late Monday overturned a lower court ruling that allowed absentee ballots to be sent in late.

The decision resulted in long lines and crowded polling places were seen Tuesday despite state-ordered social distancing and drew condemnation from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"People should not have to decide whether they can vote or be sick. That's just not a good choice for anyone in a democracy," Pelosi told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

How the November presidential election will take place will depend on whether the US' coronavirus efforts will be successful enough to get the coronavirus under control. However, the success of current efforts will continue to be difficult to evaluate due in part to the country's lagging testing for the virus.

On the "The 11th Hour" Fauci said that testing to determine how many people have been exposed, infected, and have recovered from COVID-19 is part of a "multi-faceted way of the things you might need to come back and make a gradual return to normality."

Although Fauci declined to answer whether Americans would be forced to vote by mail come November, he said that the country could slowly begin to get back to normal before then.

"We're not going to have testing for everyone in the country tomorrow – it's a gradual process," Fauci told Williams. "But you can start to think about some aspect of getting back to normal without testing everybody in the country, that's for sure."