Fauci, Redfield testify on Trump's coronavirus response

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 5:33 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020
14 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:50 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Fauci: Parts of US "seeing a disturbing surge of infections"

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Pool
Pool

Asked to give his "unvarnished view" on where the US is in its fight against Covid-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci said "it really is a mixed bag," adding that some states are doing well while others are now a problem.

“You have a very large country, very heterogeneous, major differences — for example, between the New York metropolitan area and Casper, Wyoming,” but it’s clear, Fauci said, “we've been hit badly.”

Fauci described the rise in cases in some parts of the country as "a disturbing surge of infections."

"Right now, for example, the New York metropolitan area, which has been hit extraordinarily hard, has done very well in bringing the cases down and using the guidelines that we have very carefully put together in a step-wise fashion to try and carefully reopen their city and their state. However, in other areas of the country we're now seeing a disturbing surge of infections that looks like it's a combination, but one of the things is an increase in community spread, and that's something that I'm really quite concerned about that and you know that this has been something that's been in the press over the past couple of days," Fauci said.

Fauci gave his advice on addressing these increase in cases.

"The way you address that — and I've said this over and over again — is you have to have the manpower, the system, the testing to identify, isolate and contact trace in an effective way so that when you see those increases, you can understand where they are coming from, and you can do something about them," Fauci said.

Fauci added, "right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we're seeing in Florida, in Texas and in Arizona."

WATCH:

12:01 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

White House coronavirus task force members say they're committed to increasing testing

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, Assistant Secretary for Health US Department of Health and Human Services ADM Brett P. Giroir and Commissioner of US Food and Drug Administration Dr. Stephen M. Hahn.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, Assistant Secretary for Health US Department of Health and Human Services ADM Brett P. Giroir and Commissioner of US Food and Drug Administration Dr. Stephen M. Hahn. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield, both members of the White House coronavirus task force, said they are committed to increasing — not slowing down — testing for coronavirus.

The comments come as President Trump has come under fire for saying that he told staff to slow down testing for the disease to hide the discovery of more cases. While members of his own administration have said the comments were in jest, Trump insisted today he was not kidding.

Asked about the state of testing, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has not been told to slow down on testing.

"In fact, we will be doing more testing," he said. "We're going to be doing more testing, not less."

Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention same question reiterated Fauci's remarks.

"All of us have been and continued to be committed to increasing readily, timely access to testing," he said.

1:21 p.m. ET, June 23, 2020

CDC's Redfield says getting a flu shot during Covid-19 pandemic "will save lives"

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Sarah Silbiger/Pool/Getty Images
Sarah Silbiger/Pool/Getty Images

Getting a flu shot this year will save lives, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said unequivocally on Tuesday.

Speaking at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Redfield said, “CDC has begun to prepare for months ahead, when the next season's influenza illness will occur simultaneously potentially with Covid-19, increasing the challenges on hospitals, health care professionals and the public.”

“This fall, before the seasonal circulation of influenza increase, I encourage the American people to be prepared and to embrace flu vaccination with confidence for yourself, your families in the communities,” he said.

“This single act will save lives,” Redfield added.

11:39 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Fauci says US still on track to have a Covid-19 vaccine possibly by the end of 2020

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, said vaccines are "the hallmark of all really defining responses that we have to virus diseases" — and touted progress on a possible Covid-19 vaccine, saying one could be ready by the end of the year.

"It is generally vaccines that put the nail in the coffin," Fauci said while testifying before Congress.

Health officials are in the middle of "major effort" on vaccines trials, Fauci said. One of the vaccines being worked on will enter its phase three trial in July, while others will begin that phase in the coming weeks and months.

Fauci said he feels "cautiously optimistic" about the process.

He said he expected them to be available to American public "within a year from when we started, which would put us at the end of this year and the beginning of 2021.

11:45 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

CDC head acknowledges "several communities" seeing increased cases

Pool
Pool

In his opening statement, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield acknowledged the rising number of Covid-19 cases in some areas of the country and said Americans' "most powerful weapon" against the virus is following prevention measures.

"While overall case counts are going down, several communities are seeing increased cases driven by multiple factors, including increased testing outbreaks and evidence of community transmission. Right now the most powerful weapon against this disease are social distancing, face covering and hand hygiene. These actions will help us contain transmission along with readily available testing, comprehensive timely contact tracing, timely isolation of known cases and self-quarantine to break the chains of transmission," Redfield said.

He called on Americans to "remain vigilant" in the country's collective obligation to protect others, especially communities that are most vulnerable.

"Once again, I call on the American people to remain vigilant in our collective obligation to protect those who may be at risk for severe complications of Covid-19 due to age or underlying medical conditions. We must also lessen the burden of Covid-19 among racial and ethnic groups disproportionately impacted," Redfield said.

11:21 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

The House hearing has begun. Here's what it looks like inside the committee room.

A staff member sanitizes around the name tag for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, before a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill.
A staff member sanitizes around the name tag for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, before a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Capitol Hill. Kevin Dietsch/Pool/Getty Images

The Committee on Energy and Commerce's hearing this morning entitled, "Oversight of the Trump Administration's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic" has begun.

The hearing includes both in person and remote member attendees, according to the committee's website. All four witnesses are participating in the hearing in person.

The lawmakers and witnesses participating in person could be seen wearing masks and sitting apart. The committee's chairman asked that witnesses wear their masks when they are not speaking.

Witnesses include:

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Robert Redfield, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Dr. Brett Giroir, US Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Stephen Hahn, Food and Drug Administration
Pool
Pool

House Energy and Commerce Committee
House Energy and Commerce Committee

10:57 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Nearly 22 million tests for Covid-19 performed in US, Giroir will say in testimony

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

Dr. Natalia Echeverri, prepares a swab to gather a sample from the nose of a homeless person to test for Covid-19 on April 17, in Miami, Florida.
Dr. Natalia Echeverri, prepares a swab to gather a sample from the nose of a homeless person to test for Covid-19 on April 17, in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The United States has performed nearly 22 million tests for Covid-19 since the pandemic began, says Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services.

In his opening statement, prepared for his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and posted online, Giroir says the US is "now at a rate of between 400,000 and 500,000 tests per day, and this number will continue to increase."

His comments come after President Trump came under fire over the weekend for saying at a rally that that he told staff to slow down testing for the disease due to rising new cases in the US.

The US Food and Drug Administration continues to grant emergency use authorizations for Covid-19 tests in "record number," Giroir says. "The amount and expediency in which EUAs were issued for Covid-19 tests far exceed past viral outbreaks."

Giroir says in 2016, during the Zika outbreak, the FDA issued 20 test EUAs. In 2009, for H1N1, there were 17 test EUAs.

"As of June 12, 2020, FDA has issued more than 135 Covid-19 test EUAs,” Giroir said.

Important note: Giroir doesn't specify in his opening statement which type of test he is referring to – those that check for current infection or those that check for past infection. It is also important to note many individuals have received multiple tests.

10:54 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Fauci will tell lawmakers that "rigorous clinical testing" is needed for a safe Covid-19 vaccine

From CNN Health’s Amanda Watts

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 9, in Washington.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci listens during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 9, in Washington. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says "a safe and effective vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 will be essential to stopping the spread of infection, reducing rates of morbidity and mortality, and preventing future outbreaks." 

In his opening statement prepared for his testimony for the House Energy and Commerce Committee and posted online, Fauci says NIAID is working with several partners —including Moderna and Rocky Mountain Laboratories — on a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

 "The rigorous clinical testing required to establish vaccine safety and efficacy means that it might take some time for a licensed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be available to the general public," he says.

Additionally, the National Institutes of Health is working to find therapeutics to fight coronavirus.

"The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) is leveraging the NCATS Pharmaceutical Collection, a compilation of every drug approved for human use by major regulatory agencies worldwide, and other collections of small molecules and compounds to identify potential SARS-CoV-2 therapeutics for further investigation," Fauci says.

10:55 a.m. ET, June 23, 2020

Trump, undercutting his own administration, says he was not kidding about testing comments

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington early on Sunday, April 21, after returning from a campaign rally in Tusla, Oklahoma.
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington early on Sunday, April 21, after returning from a campaign rally in Tusla, Oklahoma. Patrick Semansky/AP

President Trump, undercutting the defense of his own administration, said he was not kidding when he said he asked for a slowdown in coronavirus testing. The President also called testing a “double-edged sword.”

“I don’t kid, let me just tell you, let me make it clear,” Trump said today when asked if he was kidding about the comment he made at his rally on Saturday. 

Trump's comments came less than an hour before Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts were set to testify before a House committee on the administration’s coronavirus response.

Shortly after Trump said at the rally that he had asked his people to “slow the testing down please,” an administration official told CNN the president was “obviously kidding.”

On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters during a press briefing that Trump was speaking "in jest" and "in passing" at the rally.

The President, speaking to reporters on at the White House ahead of his departure for Arizona, again praised the amount of testing the United States has done, but blamed that same testing for the increase in coronavirus cases.

“We test better than anybody in the world. Our tests are the best in the world and we have the most of them. By having more tests, we find more cases,” Trump said. “If you look at other countries they did 1 million, 2 million, 3 million, big countries. We did 25 million, way more, by double, triple, quadruple, than any other country. Therefore, we test, we’re gonna have more cases.”

The President did also say that testing is helpful for locating where cases are, but because it shows more cases, he views that as “a double edged sword.”

“By having more cases, it sounds bad. But actually what it is, is we’re finding people. Many of those people aren't sick or very little, they may be young people. But what’s happened is because of all of the cases that we find, we have a very low mortality rate. Just about the best in the world. So that’s the advantage to the testing along with other things,” Trump said.

“Testing is a double-edged sword. In one way it tells you you have cases, in another way, you find out where the cases are and you do a good job. We are doing a great job, we have never been credited for it. We are doing the best testing job anywhere in the world,” he added.