Dr. Fauci to warn of 'needless suffering and death' during congressional testimony on 'the danger of trying to open the country prematurely'

By Lauren Frias

Infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force Anthony Fauci said he plans to issue a stark warning before the Senate on the "danger of trying to open up the country prematurely," The New York Times reported.

In his first appearance before Congress since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, Fauci is set to testify before the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor, and Pensions on Tuesday.

The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases wrote in an email to The Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg that he intends to convey to the Senate committee the "danger" of opening up the country without following the White House's "Opening Up America Again" guidelines.

"If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: 'Open America Again,' then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country," Fauci wrote in the email. "This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."

The White House released its roadmap to 'opening up' again in mid-April, which includes a three-pronged plan for states to relax their stay-at-home orders and relies heavily on increased testing and mass contact tracing.

"Even if you are in phase one, two, three, it's not, OK, game over — it's going to be a way that we protect ourselves," Fauci said during the press conference announcing the White House's reopening plan.

After federal guidelines on social distancing expired on April 30, some states have been looking to ease their lockdowns and reopen their economies. However, a Johns Hopkins researcher told Congress last week that no state has met the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security criteria to reopen safely during her congressional testimony.

The JHU guidance, comprised of four criteria, was meant to help governors decide if they can reopen their state safely. However, Caitlin Rivers asserted that no state has met them.

"It is clear to me that we are in a critical moment in this fight," she said. "We risk complacency in accepting the preventable deaths of 2,000 Americans each day. We risk complacency in accepting that our healthcare workers do not have what they need to do their jobs safely. And we risk complacency in recognizing that without continued vigilance in slowing transmission, we will again create the conditions that led to us being the worst-affected country in the world."

With states still opening up without meeting reopening guidance, experts are saying that there could be a second wave of coronavirus cases in the fall or even sooner.

"We're not reopening based on science," Dr. Thomas Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Times. "We're reopening based on politics, ideology, and public pressure. And I think it's going to end badly."