Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he will warn a Senate committee on Tuesday that reopening businesses too soon will cause “needless suffering and death.”
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci on Tuesday will 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 — with whom he had no close contact — 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 Trump, however, is pressing for a quicker reopening of the U.S. economy, which has been hammered by the fallout from mass lockdowns and social distancing.
Trump has been criticized as abdicating leadership during the pandemic, leaving states on their own to grapple with their outbreaks and bid against each other to obtain critical medical equipment on the open market or abroad.
While the situation has improved in New York — the epicenter of the US outbreak — progress has been slow elsewhere.
The White House itself is battling infections within its own ranks.
The United States has reported more than 81,700 deaths and more than 1.3 million infections.
© Agence France-Presse