Fauci: US going in right direction, but virus spikes possible as states re-open

Fauci: US going in right direction, but virus spikes possible as states re-open
Fauci: US going in right direction, but virus spikes possible as states re-open

With President Donald Trump urging states to relax their restrictions from the Coronavirus outbreak, the top government health voice on the virus said Americans may see spikes in virus cases as businesses re-open, as Dr. Anthony Fauci said the nation has certainly helped suppress the spread of the virus.

“I think we are going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak,” Fauci said to a Senate hearing.

Appearing by remote video - like all the other witnesses and most Senators - Fauci warned there could be further hot spots that flare, especially if states open too quickly.

Content Continues Below

"There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control," Fauci testified.

Joined by the head of the Food and Drug Administration, the chief of the Centers for Disease Control, and another top federal health aide who has worked with the President, Fauci again navigated his way through a partisan mine field over how the White House response has been viewed politically.

"There is certainly not a confrontational relationship," Fauci said in response to a question from Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA).

Fauci testified amid frustration over his influence in some circles within the GOP, and it flared as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) bluntly told the longtime infectious disease expert that his counsel was harming the nation by restricting business activity.

"I don't think you are the end-all," Paul told Fauci.

Fauci said he sticks to health policy.

"I've never made myself out to be the end-all," Fauci replied.

"Please reassure the public that Dr Fauci is only one of many counselors," Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) tweeted to President Trump during the hearing.

"I'm tired of hearing it's the administration's fault," said Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), who criticized a one-size-fits-all kind of response which left many businesses closed around the nation.

While Democrats used the hearing to complain about what they say has been an inadequate response by President Trump, there were also some notes of GOP dissatisfaction as well.

Noting infection hot spots at meatpacking plants in his state and others, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said a better testing regime is needed to help in getting those plants back to work.

"Four an hour is not a rapid test," Roberts said of the pace of the virus testing machines, as he said the Coronavirus was hurting farm states.

"We're not in good shape," said Roberts, who was wearing surgical gloves while sitting at his desk, testifying like many by remote video hookup.

A few minutes later, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was much more blunt in his criticism.

"I find our testing record nothing to celebrate," Romney said, a day after President Trump had trumpeted that record.

The hearing itself was a commentary on where the nation is in dealing with the virus outbreak - some Senators on hand, but many back in their offices on video, along with all of the witnesses.

“We need widespread testing,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who chaired the hearing while his dog slept behind him at his home.