On Tuesday, top U.S. COVID-19 adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci urged the Senate against prematurely lifting lockdown restrictions.
Pressure is mounting from President Trump to resume normal life and business operations in the U.S. But Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, argues that doing so would be ill-advised, The New York Times reports. Hastily lifting the lockdown, he says, would result in new coronavirus outbreaks and a spike in deaths.
“The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate [Health, Labor and Pensions] committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” Fauci told the NYT. “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.”
Republican officials immediately pushed back against Fauci after it became publicized that he was going to caution against reopening, the NYT reports. Andy Biggs, a House Representative from Arizona, accused Fauci of spreading fear and despair on Twitter.
But the numbers don’t support reopening states: unenforceable federal guidelines say that states should have a two-week-long decline in new cases of COVID-19 before lifting lockdown measures. Most states have yet to reach that goal, according to the NYT.
“We’re not reopening based on science,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the NYT. “We’re reopening based on politics, ideology and public pressure. And I think it’s going to end badly.”
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READ MORE: Fauci Plans to Use Hearing to Warn of ‘Needless Suffering and Death’ [The New York Times]
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