Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, plans to deliver a stark warning to the Senate. In his opinion, Americans will experience “needless suffering and death” if the country opens up prematurely.
His quote began trending on Twitter this morning.
Fauci is one of four top government doctors scheduled to testify remotely at a high-profile hearing on Tuesday. They will testify before the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
He will appear alongside Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health.
Fauci has emerged as the nation’s most respected voice during the coronavirus crisis. He has served under Republican and Democratic presidents for more than three decades.
The hearing will be his first appearance before Congress since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13.
He is currently in a “modified quarantine” after a “low-risk” exposure to someone infected with the virus. Redfield and Hahn are also in self-quarantine after exposure to the virus, as is the chairman of the committee, Senator Lamar Alexander.
Fauci will testify remotely Tuesday.
“The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” he wrote in an email to The New York Times on Monday night.
“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again’, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
In the White House Rose Garden on Monday, Trump declared that “we have met the moment and we have prevailed”. However, later he walked back the comments stating that he only meant to say the country had prevailed on increasing access to coronavirus testing.
Unfortunately, many public health experts assert that this simply is not true.
Opening Up America Again?
However, Fauci did echo the language of Trump’s own plan, “Opening Up America Again”. It lays out guidelines for what state officials should consider in reopening their economies.
The plan recommends that before reopening, states should have a “downward trajectory of positive tests” of coronavirus over two weeks. It also calls for conducting robust contact tracing and “sentinel surveillance”; testing of vulnerable populations, like nursing homes.
But the guidelines are not mandatory while more than 80,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Many states are still reopening without adhering to them.
In more than half of states easing restrictions last week, case counts were trending upward. Also, the proportion of positive test results was rising, or both.
The last time Fauci appeared on Capitol Hill, on March 11, when he was still permitted to testify before the Democratic-controlled House, he made headlines by bluntly telling the nation: “Things will get worse.”
His return to the Capitol, though virtual, is going to be must-watch TV in Washington — one of the strangest high-stakes hearings in recent memory.