At the hearing, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci told senators that if the country did not adequately prepare, "then we run the risk of having a resurgence."
Top health experts testify that the U.S. is not 'out of the woods' and warn against reopening too fast.
Leaders of the Trump administration's coronavirus response painted a grim picture on Tuesday of the months ahead, warning a Senate panel that the United States did not yet have control over the pandemic and lacked crucial capabilities to contain an inevitable surge in cases that could arise if the nation moved too quickly to reopen the economy.
A day after President Trump declared, "We have met the moment, and we have prevailed," the experts warned of dire consequences if states did not proceed with caution in reopening.
"We are not out of the woods yet," said Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "but we are more prepared."
Dr. Redfield's remark, during a high-profile — and partially virtual — hearing before the Senate's health committee, along with comments from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, made clear that the country was still facing steep challenges in responding to the pandemic.
They warned that a vaccine would not be ready in time for the new school year and conceded that the country still lacked an adequate contact tracing infrastructure to monitor the spread of Covid-19. The officials told senators that outbreaks in other parts of the world would surely reach the United States, and they emphasized the importance of erring on the side of caution in dealing with an unpredictable and potentially lethal disease.
"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," Dr. Fauci said. "I would hope that by that time, in the fall, that we would have more than enough to respond adequately. But if we don't, there will be problems."
The two were among four government doctors — the others were Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health — who testified remotely during the hearing. Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, who like Drs. Fauci, Redfield and Hahn is in quarantine after being exposed to the virus, presided from his den in Maryville, Tenn., with his dog sleeping in the background.
The downbeat assessments came as the death toll in the United States surpassed 81,000 — a figure that Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, noted was "45 times the rate of South Korea."
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, criticized Admiral Giroir for saying on Monday that the United States was doing twice the per capita rate of testing than South Korea. At least 25 countries were testing more on a per-capita basis than the United States, including Germany, Russia, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, according to statistics compiled by Our World in Data.
"I understand that politicians are going to frame data in a way that's most positive politically. Of course, I don't expect that from admirals," Mr. Romney said. Later, he added, "I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever."
The hearing was the first chance lawmakers had to publicly question the officials in Congress since Mr. Trump declared a national emergency two months ago.
Their message was starkly different from the self-congratulatory one the president has delivered as he has repeatedly urged an end to stay-at-home orders and, as he calls it, a "transition to greatness."
Under questioning from senators, Dr. Fauci cautioned that if the country reopened prematurely, "the consequences could be really serious."
As it unfolded, Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and an adviser to his re-election campaign, insisted that the Trump campaign would hold the Republican National Convention as planned in Charlotte, N.C., in August.
"We don't plan on canceling our convention," Ms. Trump told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday. "We plan on going ahead with it."
New York Times, May 12, 2020
May 13, 2020
Voices4America Post Script. Yesterday there were Senate hearings with experts discussing the virus. The headlines today read: Health Experts Warn Against a Rapid Reopening of the Nation.
This nation faces a challenging future, battling a virus which has already killed more than 80,000 Americans. For now, we have a sociopath in the White House who feels nothing for the sick or dead. He lies and just spends his time congratulating himself on how brilliantly he has done in fighting the virus.
Here is a sample from yesterday. Sick man. sick.
There was just one positive note expressed: People have recovered from the virus. As Dr. Fauci said, this suggests we will be able to develop a vaccine to stop it.
Vaccination is a controlled circumstance in which people face the disease and recover. A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. To do this, molecules from the pathogen are introduced into the body to trigger an immune response. Once those vaccinated have fought off the vaccine dosage, they hopefully will have immunity.
The big question remains for this particular virus: do those who have recovered have immunity?
That said, we will prevail because we must - over the virus and over Trump. It will take time. #TrumpPandemic #Blue2020