After Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Tuesday that government public health experts should be more humble in their advice to lawmakers, the government's top infectious disease authority said he never claimed to be the "end-all" authority about COVID-19 policy.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top USA infectious disease expert, says states that ignore the national guidelines for reopening the economy run the risk of spikes in coronavirus cases that may turn into new outbreaks.
"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 said.
Worldwide, the virus has infected almost 4.2 million people and killed over 287,000 - more than 80,000 deaths in USA alone, the world's highest toll.
With the US economy in free-fall and more than 30 million people unemployed, Trump has been pressuring states to reopen. Now, more than 80,000 coronavirus deaths have officially been recorded in the USA and health experts at the University of Washington are predicting more than 137,000 Americans will die by August.
"Do we have enough robust countermeasures in place that we don't have to worry about a bad fall and winter?" the MA senator asked, paraphrasing Fauci's warning last month about what might happen if the United States doesn't take sufficient action.
For now, "all roads back to work and back to school go through testing", said Alexander, the Republican committee chairman.
Adm. Brett Giroir, MD, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force who was tapped to spearhead the administration's efforts on testing, tried to put a positive spin on the results so far, pointing out that the US has conducted more than 9 million COVID-19 tests since March 12, the day he assumed his new role.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who also testified during the hearing Tuesday, has warned that the second round of the disease this fall could actually be more deadly, since it would coincide with flu season.
The antiviral remdesivir was recently shown in a clinical trial to speed up the time COVID-19 patients take to recover, but Fauci said the results were "modest" and concerned hospitalised patients, and the treatment closest to wide use by that time might be the blood plasma from recovered patients.
"I don't think you're the one person that gets to make the decision", Paul continued.
"I am hoping - and looking at the dynamics of things starting to flatten off and come down - that we will be much, much better than that", the longtime infectious disease expert said. "I will certainly advocate" for that.
There should be a robust testing program for at-risk healthcare workers, with asymptomatic cases screened as well, and contacts of positive cases traced.
Fauci, an advocate of emergency measures including stay-at-home orders, became a target for criticism from the American far right and online conspiracy theorists after he made statements about the outbreak which were at odds with Trump's.
Mr Trump himself has been criticised however for leaving states to grapple alone with their outbreaks and even bid against each other to obtain critical medical equipment.
"For example, wastewater from an entire dorm or an entire segment of a campus could be tested to determine whether there's coronavirus in that sewage", Giroir said. "We better be careful in thinking that children are completely immune to deleterious effects", although in general they seem to do much better than adults, he said.