Fauci to warn Senate of ‘needless suffering and death’ if the US reopens too quickly
The top infectious disease expert in the US, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, and three other top government doctors are set…
The top infectious disease expert in the US, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, and three other top government doctors are set to testify before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday. Dr. Fauci will use his time to warn the committee about reopening the country prematurely and potentially risking “multiple outbreaks”.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, plans to tell a Senate committee on Tuesday that the country risks “needless suffering and death” if states open up too quickly, he told The New York Times late Monday evening.
“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country,” Fauci said in an email to the Times, referring to the federal government’s plan for states to re-open. “This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
Fauci’s planned testimony will fuel a hearing where senators will finally get a chance Tuesday to face off over the effectiveness of the Trump administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, in what could be one of the only public hearings featuring members of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
The hearing will be Democrats’ first opportunity since March to question leading medical experts — including Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield — about the Trump administration’s response.
“The fact of the matter is, President (Donald) Trump has been more focused on fighting against the truth, than fighting this virus — and Americans have sadly paid the price,” Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, plans to say Tuesday, according to excerpts of her opening statement.
“Since this Committee last heard from these witnesses on March 3rd, we have seen over 900 deaths in my home state of Washington, over 80,000 deaths nationally, and the numbers continue to climb,” Murray plans to say. “Still, President Trump is trying to ignore the facts, and ignore the experts who have been clear we are nowhere close to where we need to be to reopen safely.”
The hearing — in which committee leaders and all four government witnesses will be appearing remotely via video conference — comes as states across the country have started taking actions to roll back the business closures and stay-at-home orders that were put in place two months ago to try to slow the coronavirus infection rate, though the outbreak is far from over.
Three of the witnesses and the committee’s chairman — for a hearing titled “Covid-19: Safely getting back to work and school” — are appearing remotely because they’re self-isolating or self-quarantining after contact with individuals who tested positive for coronavirus.
The hearing is likely to further illustrate the divide within the country between Republicans and Democrats over their views on the pandemic, how the administration has handled the crisis and the best path forward amid warnings from public health experts that positive cases could surge if stay-at-home orders are rolled back too quickly.
Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and other Republicans on the panel view Tuesday’s hearing as a showcase for what the administration has been working on, and they hope the reputations of scientists like Fauci will lend credibility to the work that is occurring, according to a source familiar with their thinking.
Fauci has become one of the Trump administration’s leading — and most credible — voices during the pandemic as a career public health official leading National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been willing to break with Trump on issues like testing and rolling back stay-at-home orders.
Democrats are hopeful that Fauci will give the public his honest assessment Tuesday — even if it means criticizing the President.
“This will be one of the first opportunities for Dr. Fauci to tell the American people the unvarnished truth without the President lurking over his shoulder,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.
“Dr. Fauci, let it rip,” he added.