Warning over re­open­ing too early

Fauci warning coun­ters calls by White House

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BEN RI­LEY-SMITH

An­thony Fauci, Amer­ica’s top in­fec­tious disease ex­pert, Tues­day warned that states could trig­ger more “suf­fer­ing and death” if they re­open sooner than ad­vised by the na­tion­wide coro­n­avirus guid­ance.

Speak­ing be­fore a Se­nate com­mit­tee, Fauci said mov­ing too quickly to loosen re­stric­tions could have “re­ally se­ri­ous con­se­quences.”

“There is no doubt, even un­der the best of cir­cum­stances, when you pull back on mit­i­ga­tion you will see some cases ap­pear,” he said.

Fauci ex­pressed con­cern that “lit­tle spikes” in cases could then “turn into out­breaks,” un­der­cut­ting ef­forts to tackle the pan­demic and po­ten­tially hurt­ing the eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

The warning, both in its tone and em­pha­sis, con­trasted with Don­ald Trump’s re­peated calls for states to re­open as soon as pos­si­ble — though the pres­i­dent has also said he only wants that done safely.

Else­where, Fauci said the real United States death toll from coro­n­avirus is “al­most cer­tainly higher” than the of­fi­cial fig­ure of 80,000, as some who died at home in New York were not counted.

He said it was “en­tirely con­ceiv­able and pos­si­ble” a sec­ond wave of cases will emerge this au­tumn, but he stressed that with more test­ing, con­tact trac­ing and pro­tec­tive equip­ment it would, hope­fully, be no worse than the first.

He also played down talk of ten­sion be­tween him­self and Trump, say­ing “there is cer­tainly not a con­fronta­tional re­la­tion­ship be­tween me and the pres­i­dent.”

Fauci is the di­rec­tor of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Al­lergy and In­fec­tious Dis­eases, a role he has held since 1984. He is also a mem­ber of the White House coro­n­avirus task force.

His pub­lic pro­file has soared dur­ing the pan­demic, be­ing seen as a voice of rea­son by many Amer­i­cans as he de­liv­ers sci­en­tific ad­vice in a thick New York ac­cent.

Fauci’s re­marks came at a hear­ing be­fore the Se­nate health ed­u­ca­tion, labour and pen­sions com­mit­tee, to which he called in re­motely. He is min­i­miz­ing his con­tacts af­ter a White House press ad­viser con­tracted the coro­n­avirus.

Much re­cent de­bate in the U.S. has fo­cused on the speed with which gov­er­nors — who make de­ci­sions on when to re­open their states — are loos­en­ing re­stric­tions.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion guid­ance, is­sued last month, says states should only do so af­ter COVID-19 cases are on a down­ward tra­jec­tory for at least 14 days, but many gov­er­nors are mov­ing faster than that.

Fauci re­peat­edly stressed the im­por­tance of fol­low­ing the guide­lines, warning that fail­ure to do so could cre­ate a new uptick in cases in those ar­eas. “I feel if that oc­curs there is a real risk that you will trig­ger an out­break that you may not be able to con­trol,” Fauci said.

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