Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, who has stood beside President Trump throughout much of the administration’s response to the coronavirus, will tell the Senate Tuesday that Americans will experience “needless suffering and death” if the country reopens prematurely.
“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country,” Fauci wrote in an email to The New York Times , previewing the comments he will make before the Senate Health Committee. “This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
The comments may be Dr. Fauci’s most strident departure from the White House’s messaging regarding the pandemic, which now centers around the need to kick-start the economy. No one has pushed harder for businesses to reopen than President Trump, who has tweeted repeatedly about a “TRANSITION TO GREATNESS” and how Americans need to be “WARRIORS” despite an internal administration projection that the daily death rate will increase by 70 percent from the beginning of the month to June 1st. As of Tuesday morning, more than 80,000 people in the U.S. have died of complications stemming from COVID-19.
The “Open America Again” guidelines Dr. Fauci referenced in his email to the Times is a three-pronged plan released in April by the White House aimed at “getting people back to work” while protecting them from the coronavirus. The plan calls for states to reopen if there is a prolonged downward trend in coronavirus cases. But the plan’s guidelines are only that: guidelines. According to the Times, cases are increasing in more than half of the states that eased restrictions last week.
Joining Fauci before the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday will be Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir. A new exposé from Rolling Stone details how Redfield and Hahn, along with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and President Trump, are responsible for the administration’s failed response to the coronavirus, and thus thousands of American deaths.
As Fauci will explain to Congress, that number is likely to grow as the administration pushes for the economy to reopen.