At Senate Hearing, Government Experts Paint Bleak Picture of the Pandemic

“It’s important to emphasize that we’re not out of the woods yet. The battle continues and we must, but we are more prepared. We need to stay vigilant with social distancing, it remains an imperative. We are a resilient nation and I am confident that we will emerge from this pandemic stronger together.” “Do we have the coronavirus contained?” “Right now, it depends on what you mean by containment. If you think that we have it completely under control, we don’t. I mean, if you look at the dynamics of the outbreak we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places such as in New York City, which has plateaued and started to come down — New Orleans — but in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes. So I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak.” “If we don’t do better on testing, on contact tracing and on social distancing, will deaths from coronavirus necessarily increase?” Of course, if you do not do an adequate response we will have the deleterious consequence of more infections and more deaths. If we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequately. But if we don’t, there will be problems.” “I think you’re all noble public servants, but I worry that you’re trying to have it both ways. You say the states shouldn’t open too early, but then you don’t give us the resources to succeed. You work for a president who is frankly undermining our efforts to comply with the guidance that you’ve given us. And then the guidance that you have provided is criminally vague. Obviously the plan to reopen America was meant to be followed by more detailed, nuanced guidance. Why didn’t this plan get released? And if it is just being reviewed, when is it going to be released?” “We have generated a series of guidances as you know. And this outbreak response has evolved from the C.D.C. to an all of government response. As we work through the guidances, a number of them go for interagency review and get every agency input to make sure that these guidances are more broadly applicable for different parts of our society. The guidances that you’ve talked about have gone through that interagency review, their comments that have come back to C.D.C., and I anticipate they’ll go back up into the task force for final review.” “But we’re reopening in Connecticut in five days, in 10 days. This guidance isn’t going to be useful to us in two weeks. So is it this week, is it next week, when are we going to get this expertise from the federal government?” “I do anticipate this broader guidance, though, to be posted on the C.D.C. website soon. I can’t tell you — soon — but I can tell you your state can reach out to C.D.C., and we’ll give guidance directly to anyone in your state on any circumstance that your state desires guidance from.” “Soon, isn’t terribly helpful. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.” “I think the one size fits all that we’re going to do a national strategy, and nobody is going to go to school, is kind of ridiculous. We really ought to be doing it school district by school district. So I think we ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy. And as much as I respect you Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge.” “I have never made myself out to be the end all and only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. There are a number of other people who come into that, and give advice that are more related to the things that you spoke about — the need to get the country back open again and economically. I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health. So I want to respond to that. The second thing is that you used the words, ‘we should be humble about what we don’t know.’ And I think that falls under the fact that we don’t know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe. For example, right now children presenting with Covid-16 — Covid-19 — who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki Syndrome. I think we’ve got to be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects. So again, you’re right in the numbers that children in general do much, much better than adults and the elderly, and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful, and hopefully humble, in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease. And that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”