A top U.S. health official says he will express to a congressional committee Tuesday the dangers of lifting coronavirus restrictions too quickly.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told the New York Times his main message to lawmakers will be that if the country skips over checkpoints in a three-phase White House plan, “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.
Health officials have warned for weeks that easing stay-at-home restrictions and allowing businesses to resume operations too quickly could lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, both endangering public health and harming the Trump administration’s push to kickstart economic activity.
The White House plan outlines several recommendations for states as they consider how to ease restrictions, including that they should show a downward trajectory in positive tests and a two-week fall in documented cases, as well as strong systems for tracing the contacts of those who test positive.
Fauci is one of four top officials set to appear Tuesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a hearing titled “Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School.”
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn, along with Fauci, are giving their testimony remotely because they are self-isolating after having contact with a White House staffer who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, is also participating in the meeting.
The United States has more than 1.3 million confirmed cases and 80,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.