‘Needless suffering and death’ warning if US opens too early amid coronavirus pandemic

In a hearing, which senators are forced to hold by videoconference rather than in person because of newly discovered cases within the White House, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, plans to stress “the danger of trying to open the country prematurely.”

“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal,” Fauci said in an email to The New York Times that outlined what he planned to say at the hearing.

That grim warning contrasts with President Donald Trump’s enthusiastic calls for states to reopen, despite the risks.

Trump tweeted Monday that “the great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes.”

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing titled, “safely getting back to work and back to school,” could be contentious, as Republicans have tended to back Trump’s call to reopen the economy faster while Democrats have argued for more testing and contact tracing first.

A member of the committee, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted Monday that it’s “time to safely reopen and start rebuilding the economy!”

The hearing comes after the White House announced last week that a valet to Trump and an aide to Vice President Mike Pence both tested positive for the virus.

Three witnesses for the hearing who serve on Pence’s task force – Fauci; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration – are each isolating themselves after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.

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