Tuesday May 12, 2020
WASHINGTON: Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci will Tuesday warn the Senate the United States will see "needless suffering and death" from the coronavirus if it tries to reopen too soon, The New York Times reported.
Fauci, who has become the trusted face of the government's virus response, is one of four top medical experts due to testify remotely at a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
"The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely," Fauci wrote in an email to The New York Times late Monday.
"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," said Fauci, a leader of the White House coronavirus task force.
Fauci himself is in "modified quarantine" after Vice President Mike Pence's spokeswoman — who he had no close contact with — tested positive.
"Opening Up America Again" is the administration's guidelines on a three-phase approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies, while observing medical advice on limiting the spread of the virus. Among the administration's requirements before moving to a phased comeback, states should have a "downward trajectory" of documented cases or positive tests, as a percentage of total tests, over two weeks.
There should be a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers, with asymptomatic cases screened as well, and contacts of positive cases traced.
President Donald Trump is pressing for a quicker reopening of the US economy, which has been hammered by the fallout from mass lockdowns and social distancing.
Trump has been criticized as essentially abdicating any leadership role during the pandemic, leaving states on their own to grapple with their outbreaks and even bid against each other to obtain critical medical equipment on the open market or abroad.
While the situation has improved in New York — the epicentre of the US outbreak — progress has been slow elsewhere.
The White House itself is battling infections within its own ranks. The US has reported more than 80,000 deaths and 1.3 million infections.