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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1:15 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Romney says he was "surprised" Trump blamed Obama for a lack of vaccine


Neither President Trump nor his predecessor President Obama are responsible for the lack of a coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

He was responding to GOP Sen. Mitt Romney's question about President Trump's recent suggestion that Obama was responsible for the lack of a vaccine.

"The President said the other day that President Obama is responsible for lack of vaccine. Dr. Fauci, is President Obama — or by extension President Trump — did they do something that made the likelihood of creating the vaccine less likely?" Romney asked.

"Certainly President Obama nor President Trump are not responsible for not having a vaccine," Fauci said.

He added that the US has moved "rapidly" from discovering the virus to having trials for vaccines.

Romney then added that he was "surprised" by Trump's suggestion.

"That was my impression. I was surprised by the comment," he said.

1:03 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci says there is a "moral responsibility" to protect essential workers, like those in meat plants

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Anthony Fauci gave his “common-sense guidance” when Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith asked about reopening meat plants and expressed her concerns over deaths and infections there. 

“When you’re calling upon people to perform essential services, you really have almost a moral responsibility to make sure they are well-taken care of and protected," he said.

“It would seem that if you want to keep things like packing plants open, that you really got to provide the optimum degree of protection for the workers involved, the ability to allow them to go to work safely, and if and when individuals get infected, to immediately be able to get them out and give them the proper care,” Fauci said. 

“That's not an official proclamation, that's just me speaking as a physician and as a human being,” he added. 

In late April, President Trump signed an executive order under the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open during the coronavirus pandemic.

12:55 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

A senator asked Fauci how he's holding up. "I'm doing fine," he said.


Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat from Minnesota, started her five minutes of questions with a simple one for Dr. Anthony Fauci.

"How are you doing and how are you holding up?" she asked him.

"I'm doing fine, senator, thank you very much for asking," he said.

Fauci continued:

"This is, this is such an important problem. It transcends all of us individually, and we have to be working as a team. And I enjoy very much working with your senators and the governors, because it's at the local level that we're going make it work. So I am fine. I appreciate your concern."


12:48 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci says school reopenings will vary by region

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Win McNamee/Pool/AP
Win McNamee/Pool/AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force, said there is no “easy answer” to how students go back to school.

“We have a very large country and the dynamics of the outbreak are different in different regions of the country,” Fauci told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. “So I would imagine that situations regarding school will be very different in one region versus another, so that it's not going to be universally or homogeneous.”

Fauci was asked about the risk-benefit ratio between sending kids back to school and having them miss out on education.

“It’s obviously very difficult," he said. "The unintended consequences of trying to do something that broadly is important for the public health and the risk of having a return or a resurgence of an outbreak and the unintended deleterious consequences of having children at a school."

“I don't have a good explanation or solution for the problem of what happens when you close schools and it triggers a cascade of events," Fauci added. 

12:32 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: More deaths on the horizon without an "adequate" response by fall

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt


Dr. Anthony Fauci said the United States does not have “total control” yet of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“If you think that we have it completely under control, we don’t,” he told Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the Senate hearing on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. 

“If you look at the dynamics of the outbreak, we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places — such as in New York City, which has plateaued and is starting to come down — but in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes,” he said. 

Fauci said the coronavirus curve looks flat right now.  

“I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have, by any means, total control of this outbreak,” he said. 

Fauci again said that if there is not an “adequate” response by the US in the fall, more infections and deaths are on the horizon. 

“We run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequately, but if we don't, there will be problem,” he said. 


12:18 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: We don't have the coronavirus outbreak under control

From CNN's Jacqueline Howard

Win McNamee/Pool/AP
Win McNamee/Pool/AP

The coronavirus outbreak in the US appears to be "going in the right direction," but the nation does not have it under control, Dr. Anthony Fauci said. 

"If you think we have it completely under control, no we don’t," said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci added that while in some states, such as New York, the number of new cases appears to be going down, but there are other areas in the nation where new cases are rising.

"When you look at the dynamics of new cases, even though some are coming down, the curve looks flat with some slight coming down," Fauci said. "So I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak."
12:12 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

CDC director says reopening guidelines could be posted online "soon"


Sen. Chris Murphy asked US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield about the CDC guidance on reopening states that was rejected by the Trump administration.

The guidance provided more detailed suggestions beyond the reopening guidelines the administration had put forth last month, including specific suggestions for schools and churches. 

Redfield said the guidance was going through "interagency review" and could be posted online "soon."

Here's how the exchange between Redfield and Murphy went down:

Murphy: "Why didn't this plan get released, and if it is just being reviewed, when is it going to be released? Because states are reopening right now, and we need this additional guidance to make decisions."

Redfield: "Senator, I appreciate your question, clearly we have generated a series of guidances as you know and as this outbreak response has evolved from a CDC to an all of government response. As we work through the guidances, a number of them go for interagency reviews and interagency input to make sure these guidances are more broadly applicable for different parts of our society. The guidances that you've talked about have gone through that interagency review. There are comments that have come back to CDC. And I anticipate to go backup into the task force for final review."

Murphy: "But we are reopening in Connecticut in five days, in ten days. This guidance isn't going to useful to us in two weeks. Is it this week or next week? When are we going to get this expertise from the federal government?"

Redfield: "The other thing that I will just say is the CDC stands by to be of technical assistance to your state and any state upon requests, I do anticipate these guidance so to be posted on the CDC's website soon."


12:07 p.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci warns against "cavalier" thinking that children are immune to coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against believing children are immune to coronavirus, citing new cases where some children have developed a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that could be linked to the virus.

He stressed that experts are still learning about coronavirus.

"We don't know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we're seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn't see from the studies in China or in Europe," Fauci said.

What this is about: A mysterious illness that's affecting children and could be linked to the coronavirus has alarmed officials, who are searching for answers as infections increase. Doctors are referring to the condition that has hospitalized dozens of children as "pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome." Three children have died because of it in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

Today, Fauci added: "I think we should be careful, if we're not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects."

Fauci added that in general, most children who develop coronavirus "do much, much better than adults."

"But I am very careful, and hopefully humble, in knowing that I don't know everything about this disease and that's why I'm very reserved in making broad predictions," he said.


11:53 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

There's a risk of uncontrollable coronavirus outbreaks if states prematurely reopen, Fauci says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

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

Dr. Anthony Fauci issued a warning about states that disregard coronavirus guidelines for safely reopening. 

“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” he said.

Fauci said those actions would “turn the clock back” on stemming the tide of coronavirus infections. 

That would “paradoxically set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery,” Fauci said.