Dr Anthony Fauci has warned there will be “needless suffering and death” if the US lifts lockdown too quickly as Trump plans to “Open America”.
The United States’ top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, has warned if the country reopens too soon during the coronavirus pandemic, it will result in “needless suffering and death”.
Dr Fauci, who has become the trusted face of the US government’s virus response, testified remotely at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, which discussed the country’s reopening plans.
Other top medical experts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services also testified.
Prior to the hearing, Dr Fauci told The New York Times: “The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country 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.
“This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal,” he said.
The expert then told senators that reopening the country too soon could have “really serious” consequences.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control and, in fact paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery,” he said.
Dr Fauci also had a sharp retort for Senator Rand Paul after the Kentucky Republican said he was not the “end all” in knowledge about the coronavirus, and it was “kind of ridiculous” to suggest children should be kept out of school in the fall.
While agreeing that children generally do much better than adults with COVID-19, Dr Fauci said there had been some reports of children experiencing severe disease.
“We don’t know everything about this virus and we really better be pretty careful, particularly when it comes to children,” he said.
“I think we better be careful (that) we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects.”
On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 52 children had been diagnosed with an inflammatory syndrome possibly linked to COVID-19 and one child had died.
Children elsewhere in the US and in Europe also have been hospitalised with the condition, known as paediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome.
“It’s sobering, it’s bluntly frightening,” de Blasio said, “and I want to say to parents out there, if you’re hearing this information about paediatric multi- system inflammatory syndrome and it sounds scary, it does sound scary.”
OPENING UP AMERICA
“Opening Up America Again” is the Trump administration’s guidelines on a three-phase approach to help state and local officials reopen their economies, while observing medical advice on limiting the spread of the virus.
Among the administration’s requirements before moving to a phased comeback, states should have a “downward trajectory” of documented cases or positive tests, as a percentage of total tests, over two weeks.
There should be a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers, with asymptomatic cases screened as well, and contacts of positive cases traced.