Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned lawmakers on Tuesday that the country could face dire consequences should the American economy reopen too soon, as he previously told The New York Times in an email exchange.
“The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” Fauci wrote to the Times’ Sheryl Gay Stolberg on Monday evening. “If we skip over the checkpoints … then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country.”
He added that reopening too soon “would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal” since the rise of the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci testified before lawmakers on the health committee for the first time since the pandemic was declared a national emergency in March. He was joined by Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services.
His comments to the Times represented a stark departure from White House talking points that have been pushed by President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers. The president has cheered states that have gone forward with relaxing stay-at-home orders even if they haven’t met guidelines laid out in a three-phase plan released by the White House called “Opening Up America Again.”
At the same time, infections around the nation have continued to surge. More than 1.3 million people have now tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 80,000 have died of the virus
Fauci has regularly urged caution as the nation has suffered the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic, warning of catastrophic consequences should the nation return to normal unless a bevy of safety measures are adopted and the level of infections stabilizes.
The doctor himself is in a “modified quarantine” after coming in contact with a White House staffer who was diagnosed with COVID-19.
The nation’s top medical officials have also warned that the coronavirus is not going to go away anytime soon, even though Trump has suggested it could disappear even without a vaccine.
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