Fauci: Rushing to Reopen the Country Will Cause ‘Needless Suffering and Death’

Fauci is planning to warn a Senate committee about the danger of skipping over checkpoints in the plan to lift coronavirus restrictions.
fauci reopening coronavirus
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

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Without President Donald Trump standing next to him, the man leading America’s response to the coronavirus will warn the Senate on Tuesday that reopening the country too soon could cause “needless suffering and death.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a top adviser to Trump on the crisis, will address the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Tuesday morning in a hearing entitled “COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.”


Fauci gave a preview of his testimony late Monday night. “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 New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, who posted the message on Twitter.

“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.”

Fauci’s warning comes as Trump and Republicans are pushing for the economy to reopen sooner rather than later — and most U.S. states have reopened or are planning to do so this week.

By Friday, all but two of the country's governors will have lifted at least some of the restrictions they put in place in recent weeks to try and stop the spread of the virus.

But the White House’s three-phase Opening Up America Again plan stipulates that states need to show a “downward trajectory of positive tests” or a “downward trajectory of documented cases” of coronavirus over two weeks in order to reopen their economies.

Very few states are meeting these criteria, and contact tracing and testing facilities are not sufficiently robust to meet the demands of a reopening economy.

Fauci will be one of three members of Trump’s coronavirus task force to testify before the committee remotely because they are self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, will also be dialing in remotely. The committee chair, Sen. Lamar Alexander, is remaining in Tennessee and dialing in as well, because one of his staffers tested positive.

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Cover: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives to speak about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)