Fauci testifies on Trump's coronavirus response

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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"

Pool
Pool

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."

WATCH:

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.

WATCH:

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. 

11:36 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Will Americans be able to get a vaccine regardless of income? Here's what the witnesses say

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Pool
Pool

Sen. Bernie Sanders asked the top three officials testifying on Capitol Hill today if they can guarantee vaccines will be available to all Americans, regardless of their income.

“If and when the vaccine comes, it won't do somebody any good if they don't get it. And if they have to pay a sum of money for it in order to profit the drug companies, that will not be helpful,” he said.

Adm. Brett Giroir of the HHS said he would “certainly advocate that everyone is able to receive the vaccine regardless of income or any other circumstance.”

"We need to be absolutely certain that if a vaccine or an effective therapeutic or preventive is available that it reaches all segments of society regardless of their ability to pay or any other social determinant of health that there may be."

“The payment of the vaccines is not a responsibility of the FDA,” Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration said. “I share your concern that this needs to be made available to every American.”

11:38 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

US will be able to run "at least 40 to 50 million tests per month" by September, health official says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The US will be able to produce, distribute and apply “at least 40 to 50 million tests per month,” Admiral Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for Health at US Department of Health and Human Services, said. 

Giroir told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions that since March 12, “the nation has performed more than 9 million Covid-19 tests."

Remember: The federal government has been under fire for months for its slow production of tests for the coronavirus. Public health experts universally say regular testing is critical to understanding the spread of Covid-19 and to control it.

Giroir indicated it will take a few more months to ramp up production.

“By September, taking every aspect of development, authorization, manufacturing and supply chain into consideration — we project that our nation will be capable of performing at least 40 to 50 million test per month, if needed at that time,” he told the committee.

“Collectively, states and territories established an overall goal to perform the 12.9 million tests over the next four weeks. The federal government is able to and will support the achievement of this goal,” he added.  

11:32 a.m. ET, May 12, 2020

Fauci: The US death toll is "almost certainly" higher than what's been reported

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Pool
Pool

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said many experts believe more people have died from coronavirus than have been reported.

“Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number,” Fauci told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) today.

“Given the situation, particularly in New York City — when they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health care system — that there may have been people who died at home who did have some Covid who are not counted as Covid because they never really got to the hospital,” Fauci continued.

Fauci said he's not sure "exactly what percent higher" the real death toll could be.

"But almost certainly it’s higher," he added.

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

POOL
POOL

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."