Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious diseases expert, will reportedly tell a U.S. Senate committee Tuesday that reopening the country too soon amid the coronavirus outbreak will lead to “needless suffering and death,” according to the New York Times.


Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will testify Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee.

Three other top doctors are appearing as witnesses: Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn and assistant Health Secretary Adm. Brett P. Giroir.

Fauci told a New York Times reporter over email that he planned to convey the warning during his testimony, and emphasized benchmarks in the Trump administration’s reopening guidelines.

Dr. Fauci’s warning appears to contradict President Trump’s outlook on the virus. After Trump said, “We have met the moment and we have prevailed,” in a Monday press briefing⁠—which Trump quickly walked back, claiming that he was referring to the scaling of testing.

The Times reported that the committee is expected to question the four doctors about testing, as many states aren’t administering the number of tests health experts say should be necessary for reopening.

Trump seemed to double down on his positive outlook Tuesday morning, tweeting, “Our Testing is the BEST in the World, by FAR! Numbers are coming down in most parts of our Country, which wants to open and get going again. It is happening, safely!”

Crucial quote

“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 via email. “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.”

Chief critic

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. “Dr. Fauci talks about if we open too soon there will be needless death. Everyone wants to open . . . but they want to open in a rational way. The president hasn’t done his work . . . this isn’t politics, this is life,” he said during a Tuesday morning Good Morning America appearance.

Key background

Tuesday’s committee hearing will be a departure from usual procedure, as GOP chairman Senator Lamar Alexander decided that he, along with Fauci and the three other witnesses, will videoconference in. Fauci confirmed Sunday that he has entered “modified quarantine” after “low risk” exposure to a White House staffer who tested positive for the virus. Hahn, Redfield and Alexander are also in self-quarantine following exposure. Tuesday’s hearing will mark Fauci’s first appearance before Congress since Trump declared a national emergency due to the coronavirus on March 13, 2020. Fauci previously told House lawmakers on March 11, 2020, that “things will get worse” in terms of the outbreak; since then, the U.S. has become the world’s leader in the number of cases and deaths. The White House blocked Fauci on May 1, 2020, from testifying before a House committee. Trump said days later he doesn’t want Fauci to testify before the House because they are “a bunch of Trump haters.”

Further reading

Fauci to Warn of ‘Needless Suffering and Death’ if States Open Too Soon (New York Times)

Fauci, Other Witnesses and Chairman Are Quarantined, but Hearing Must Go On (New York Times)

Biden pushes back on Trump’s testing claims, labels coronavirus response ‘incompetent’ (Good Morning America)

Fauci to begin ‘modified quarantine’ (CNN)

Trump Accuses Obama Of A Crime In White House Press Briefing (Forbes)

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