Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert who has become the leading voice for the Trump administration and its coronavirus response, echoed his warning to state governments that are looking to reopen.
Fauci said the decision is being rushed and cautioned against it.
In a statement before the Senate Oversight Committee, Fauci said the “consequences [of reopening too soon] could be really serious.”
“I feel, if [premature opening] occurs, there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control. Which, in fact, paradoxically will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery,” Fauci testified. “It would almost turn the clock back rather than going forward. That is my major concern.”
Why it matters: Dozens of states have taken steps to reopen their economies, but few — if any — have met the Trump administration’s recommendations for a 14-day “downward trajectory” in reported cases and infrastructure for “robust” testing and contact tracing capabilities.
- Fauci stressed that even states that are reopening at an “appropriate pace” and “under the best of circumstances” should prepare for more cases when they pull back from mitigation.
The big picture: Fauci, who testified virtually alongside CDC director Robert Redfield, FDA commissioner Stephan Hahn, and testing coordinator Adm. Brett Giroir, said that it’s unlikely a coronavirus vaccine will be available in time for the fall semester. He also testified that the coronavirus death toll is “almost certainly” higher than the official count.
During the Senate committee hearing, Republican Senator Rand Paul challenged Fauci’s assessment and called into question his “end-all” decision-making.
“I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy,” Paul said via the Washington Examiner. “And as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision.”
— Caɱ (@DangerousIncHS) May 12, 2020