Health

Fauci, other top coronavirus task force officials testify to Senate HELP Committee

Fauci tells committee "the curve looks flat" but warns of resurgence of cases if states reopen too quickly.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force testified today to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The hearing, which featured Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Stephen Hahn, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, was the biggest congressional hearing since the coronavirus crisis began.

Ahead of the testimonies, Democrats made clear they saw the hearing as an opportunity to separate Fauci from President Trump, whom he is almost always with when he appears publicly. Critics of the president have argued his response to the coronavirus crisis was wholly inadequate. “Until now, we’ve mostly heard from the members of the coronavirus task force through the distorted lens of the White House press conference where the president often prevents them from answering fully, interrupts their response, or even contradicts their fact-based evidence,” New York Senator Schumer said on Monday. During the same statement yesterday, Senator Schumer urged Dr. Fauci to “let it rip” during today’s hearing.

Fauci did not, in fact, “rip” on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic in his remarks, instead emphasizing efforts by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop vaccines and other medical means to fight the coronavirus.

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On one point, Fauci said the government is focusing on several different vaccine candidates, using the hockey term “multiple shots on goal” to describe the increased chances that one would work. Additionally, he said if more than one is successful, that would help increase the availability of the vaccines globally. But, Fauci noted, “there’s no guarantee that a vaccine is going to be effective.”

The hearing was the Democrats’ first opportunity since March to grill top administration officials on their response to the coronavirus. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the committee, said in her opening statement that the U.S. needs “dramatically more testing,” but added that testing “alone won’t be enough to reopen our country.” Murray added, “We still need far more personal protective equipment than has been available for our health care workers on the frontlines, and we will need far more for other workers as we reopen.”

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“Families across the country are counting on us for the truth about the COVID-19 pandemic, especially since it is clear they will not get it from President Trump,” Murray said. “Truth is essential… The president isn’t telling the truth. We must. And our witnesses must.” She also criticized the Trump administration’s tangible response to the virus, saying it has been marked by delays and insufficient assistance to states and health professionals. Additionally, she advocated for another coronavirus stimulus bill to help ease the burden of the economic shutdowns across the country aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

During a round of questioning toward the end of the hearing, Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticized Admiral Giroir’s comments touting U.S. testing efforts during a White House event a day earlier. “I understand that politicians are going to frame data in a way that’s most positive politically — of course, I don’t expect that from admirals,” Romney said. “But yesterday, you celebrated that we had done more tests and more tests per capita even in South Korea, but you ignored the fact that they accomplished theirs at the beginning of the outbreak. I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever,” Romney added.

Fauci got into a bit of a skirmish with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) over Paul’s criticism of some of the prognostications that have come from public health experts and the push to reopen schools quickly. “The history of this will be wrong prediction after wrong prediction after wrong prediction,” Paul said, mentioning, among several other examples, Sweden, which left its schools open. “I don’t think you’re an end-all, I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We’ll be making a big mistake if we don’t open schools in the fall,” Paul stated.

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Fauci said during the hearing that the virus is “not completely under control,” but added, “so when you look at the dynamics of new cases, even though some are coming down, the curve looks flat with some coming down. So I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak.” He added that without proper measures, the U.S. could face a “resurgence” in cases. He said the U.S. should be in a much better place by the fall, but said if adequate measures are not taken “there will be problems.”

Under questioning from Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), all four witnesses said their relationships with the president are in no way “confrontational” and said they have always felt free to give their opinions and advice to President Trump on the coronavirus pandemic.

Amy Johnston
meet the author

Amy Johnston is a LifeZette Special Correspondent, entrepreneur and a voice for grassroots conservative political movements. She is also a registered nurse and serves her community as a volunteer in the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.

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