In a teleconferenced senate hearing held last week, Dr. Fauci voiced dire warnings about premature reopenings could only result in more deaths and suffering.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the long-serving Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), made the most impact for being straightforward in his evaluation of the current state of the health crisis in the U.S.
His previous public statements often came as rebuttals of Trump’s press briefing announcements; making him a more reliable source of information that the Trump-appointed officials serving as members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force.
Trump and Pro-Reopening Government Officials are Forgetting that Vaccines Will Not be Available Soon
During the virtual hearing, Dr. Fauci kept reminding senators that even if researchers come up with a vaccine, it is not something to count on as a quick solution for ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NIAID director wanted to clear the misconception that once a vaccine has been developed, let’s say within a year, the country cannot simply put scaled–up production in motion, and make it accessible to the American public.
Reopening Must First Pass Certain Checkpoints
Dr. Fauci’s position is that reopening a state must first pass certain checkpoints before easing down stay-at-home orders and safe distancing measures.
Checkpoints include achieving a downward trajectory on positive test results or documented cases, in the most recent, and succeeding two-week period.
Other checkpoints include ensuring that the state has the capability to carry out “robust contact-tracing” in connection with new positive cases. Additionally, Dr. Fauci said that being able to conduct “surveillance testing” in high risk areas or groups is also a must.
The infectious disease expert made specific mention of Colorado and Texas as examples of states that reopened despite not seeing a two-week downward trend in the number of positive cases in their respective jurisdiction.
Death Toll in the U.S. is Undercounted
When asked by Senator Sanders if the death counts being reported are accurate, Dr. Fauci gave a straightforward answer. According to the NIAID Director, the true death toll in the U.S. is actually greater than the more than 82,000 currently reported.
Dr. Fauci remarked that in New York City alone, many patients had died before they were formally diagnosed as positive cases of COVID-19, and therefore not among those included in the reported death counts.