Fauci testifies on Trump's coronavirus response

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 2:08 PM ET, Tue May 12, 2020
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11:27 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: It's "entirely conceivable and possible" there will be a second wave

Win McNamee/Pool/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that, while the coronavirus will not simply "disappear" this fall, he hopes the threat of a possible second wave can be mitigated by aggressive testing efforts and health-care preparedness.

Sen. Bernie Sanders asked Fauci, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force, this:

"Are we fearful that if we don't get our act together, as bad as the situation is now, it could become worse in the fall or winter?"

Fauci said he believes "that possibility does exist."

"And the reason I say that is when you talk about 'will this virus just disappear' — and as I've said publicly many times, that is just not going to happen because it's such a highly transmissible virus," Fauci said. "And even if we get better control over the next several months, it's likely there will be the virus somewhere on this planet that will eventually get back to us."

He added that it's "entirely conceivable and possible" that a second wave will happen this fall.

"I would hope that between now and then, given the capability of doing the testing that you heard from Admiral [Brett] Giroir and the ability of us to stock up on personal protective equipment and the work force that the CDC under Dr. [Robert] Redfield will be putting forth to be able to identify, isolate and contact trace — I hope that if we do have the threat of a second wave, we will be able to deal with it very effectively to prevent it��from becoming an outbreak," Fauci added.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Dr. Fauci:

11:20 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: Reopening too early could have "really serious" consequences


Dr. Anthony Fauci said there could be "really serious" consequences if states and areas reopen prematurely.

Sen. Patty Murray asked what would happen if a community doesn't follow guidelines from health experts on the phases of reopening.

"The consequences could be really serious," Fauci said

Fauci added that there is "no doubt" that "even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases appear."

"It's the ability and the capability of responding to those cases with good identification, isolation and contact tracing will determine whether you can continue to go forward as you try to reopen America," he added.

"What I've expressed then and again is my concern that if some areas, cities, states, what have you, jump over prematurely over those checkpoints and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently," he said. "My concern is that we'll start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks."

11:12 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Here is the status of testing in the US, according to an HHS official

From CNN's Aditi Sangal


The 41 community-based drive-through testing sites across the US, as prioritized by the CDC “have been a profound success,” according to Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health in the Department of HHS.

He said the sites have tested more than 167,000 high-risk individuals.

More broadly, the US has performed more than 9 million Covid-19 tests since March 12 — “a number far greater than any other country and double the per capita task performed to date in South Korea,” he said.

Giroir also provided the current status on testing across the US as well as projected some numbers for the coming month:

  1. The federal government is shipping 12.9 million swabs and over 9.7 million tubes of media to states in May alone.
  2. By the end of 2020, the federal government will procure over 135 million swabs and 132 million tubes of media and distribute these to states as requested.
  3.  By September, taking every aspect of development, authorization, manufacturing and supply chain into consideration, the department projects that our administration will be capable of performing at least 40-50 million tests per month.

Some context: President Trump and administration officials yesterday claimed the US leads the world in Covid-19 testing. While the raw number of tests performed in the US might be the highest, multiple data sources note that the US is not the leader in testing per capita and does not do more testing than other countries "combined," as Trump claimed, according to Factcheck.org. Read more here.

11:05 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: It's a "bridge too far" to think there will be a vaccine before college fall semesters start


The first question at today's Senate hearing on coronavirus was about the possibility of college students getting back to campus this fall.

Sen. Lamar Alexander asked Dr. Anthony Fauci what he'd say to school officials who are trying persuade students to come back to campus.

"Let's look down the road three months. There will be about 5,000 campuses across the country trying to welcome 20 million college students," Alexander said.

Fauci said students might feel safest if there was a vaccine for coronavirus — but it's a "bridge too far" to think a vaccine or treatment will be ready by the time classes start this fall.

"If this were a situation where we had a vaccine, that would really be the end of that issue in a positive way," Fauci said. "We don't see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term."

Dr. Brett Giroir, with the US Department of Health and Human Services, said the strategy for getting students back on campus is heavily dependent on how much community spread is happening in the fall.

He said there would likely be a "surveillance strategy" for students going back to class. That would involve testing some students at different times "to give an assurance that there's no circulation."

Watch Fauci:

10:56 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

FDA is watching out for fraudulent coronavirus tests, commissioner says


Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said his organization has issued multiple emergency authorizations for coronavirus tests, and they're continuing to review them.

He said the FDA is "monitoring the marketplace for fraudulent tests, and are taking appropriate action to protect the public health."

Hahn said officials are working to provide "more clarity" on which tests have been reviewed by the FDA.

10:55 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

CDC director: "Testing is essential to reopening America"


Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the US must have an extensive capacity to test for coronavirus before the country can lift certain restrictions.

"Rapid, extensive and widely available, timely testing is essential to reopening America," he said in his opening remarks to the senate committee.

He also said contact tracing is "critical" because it can prevent some community transmission.


10:46 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: We hope to develop multiple coronavirus vaccines


Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health and an expert on Trump's coronavirus task force, said there are many possible vaccines being worked on — and researchers hope to develop more than one.

"We have many candidates and hope to have multiple winners," Fauci said, explaining that more vaccines will be good for global availability.

"In other words, it's multiple shots on goal," Fauci said.
10:45 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Testing in the US "is impressive but not nearly enough," GOP senator says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

"What our country had done so far in testing is impressive but not nearly enough," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the HELP committee, in his opening remarks.

Reopening the country requires large-scale testing, he added.

"In my opinion, this requires millions of new tests, many from new technologies. Some of these will fail, but we only need a few successes to get where we want to go," Alexander said.

As he noted his previous conversations around coronavirus treatments and vaccines with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sen. Alexander said that those are the ultimate solution, but until they are developed, all paths to reopening depend on testing.

"All roads back to work and school go through testing. The more tests we conduct, the better we can identify those who are sick and exposed, and we can quarantine the sick and exposed instead of trying to quarantine the whole country," the senator said.

Watch more:

10:38 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Senate Democrat: Trump's coronavirus response "so far has been a disaster"

Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said her colleagues on the committee must dig for the truth about coronavirus because Trump is not.

"Truth is essential so people have the facts ... Lives are at stake." she said in her opening remarks. "The President isn't telling the truth — we must."

Murray said Trump's response to the pandemic has been a "disaster," citing the nation's lack of testing and shortages in personal protective equipment.

"The Trump administration's response to this public health emergency so far has been a disaster on its own," she said.