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Medical Experts Offer Senate Hearing Somber Picture of Coronavirus Response, Need for Continued Action

May 12, 2020 (EIRNS)—In remarks today before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Dr. Stephen Hahn, (Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration), Dr. Robert Redfield (Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and Adm. Brett Giroir (Assistant Secretary of Health) provided a somber assessment of the government’s coronavirus response, and what is required going forward to ensure that the capabilities to respond adequately to any future outbreaks are firmly in place.

That means necessary testing capability, implementation of isolation and contact tracing, and no easing of restrictions unless states meet the criteria established for doing so, starting with a steady decline in the infection rate for a full 14 days. Dr. Fauci was adamant on this latter point which he repeated several times: if states try to “jump over” these checkpoints, they will have no capacity to respond when spikes and outbreaks inevitably occur. Ignoring the guidelines, he warned, will result in triggering an outbreak “you can’t control” and “turn the clock back” on economic development. When asked by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) if the virus is now contained in the country, Fauci responded “no” because “we have spikes ... we don’t have it under control.”

Several Senators expressed great concern about reopening of schools in the fall and whether a vaccine might be available by that time. Fauci bluntly responded there would be no vaccine by then, although he discussed the development of other therapeutics and antivirals underway. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), himself a doctor, insisted that because infection rates among children are low, why not open schools in the fall so their parents can go back to work? Fauci warned Senator Paul that “we don’t know everything about this virus,” and especially not in children, pointing to recent alarming manifestations in children, Kawasaki disease, etc. “We can’t be cavalier” and must be “careful not to make raw predictions,” he told Paul.

While some Senators used the opportunity to attack President Donald Trump’s response, the discussion was generally respectful and serious. There was much discussion about U.S. testing capabilities, from Admiral Giroir and Dr. Redfield. Giroir projected that by September, the U.S. would be conducting 40-50 million tests per month. Dr. Redfield said that “we’re not out of the woods yet ... but we’re not defenseless.” Public health measures and mitigation efforts have slowed the virus’s advance, but emphasized that “timely testing” is essential for determining further opening up. He also emphasized the urgency of rebuilding the country’s public health infrastructure, which should be done “now,” he said.

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