Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and leader of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force, spoke to members of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday about the process of opening the economy back up at a hearing entitled, “COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and School.”
While numerous lawmakers joined via video conference, which marked the first Senate hearing held since March, Fauci told the Senate committee that schools should not expect a coronavirus vaccine by the time students are expected to return to class in the fall. He said even suggesting that a vaccine will be available at that time was a “bridge too far.”
“We don’t know everything about this virus,” Fauci said, “and we really ought to be very careful, particularly when it comes to children.”
Sen. Rand Paul said he thinks “it’s a huge mistake if we don’t open the schools in the fall” and that Fauci should not be the person to make that call. Paul said, “Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all, I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision.”
After asking if he could respond even though time was short, Fauci responded, “I have never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice of this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. … I don’t give advice about anything other than public health.”
Rand Paul: "Dr. Fauci, I don't think you're the end-all, I don't think you're the one person that gets to make a decision…"
Dr. Fauci: "Sen. Paul, I have never made myself out to be the end-all & only voice of this. I'm a scientist, a physician, and a public health official." pic.twitter.com/kp28BusfUL
— The Hill (@thehill) May 12, 2020
During the Senate hearing, Fauci discussed his apprehension about certain states opening back up amid the global crisis. He said, “My concern that if some areas — cities, states or what have you — jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up, without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.”
Fauci also dismissed the idea that COVID-19 will just go away on its own. “When you talk about ‘will this virus just disappear’ — and I’ve said publicly many times, that is just not gonna happen because it’s such a highly transmissible virus,” he said.
Paul controversially did not practice social distancing back in March. He was spotted attending a Senate GOP lunch two days prior to announcing he had tested positive for coronavirus.
I took a picture inside the Senate GOP lunch when the door was open Friday and saw Rand Paul seated next to other senators. He is visible in this photo. pic.twitter.com/4qwZo5YdBs
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 22, 2020
His announcement read, “Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.”
After Paul announced he had tested positive for coronavirus, Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee also entered self-quarantine.
Fauci Is Currently In ‘Modified Quarantine’
Fauci was at Tuesday’s hearing via videoconference because he entered what he referred to as “modified quarantine” just two days before. On May 10, Fauci said he would work from home and continue to work and do interviews via videoconference for the next 14 days. He will also wear a mask while outside his home and go to the National Institutes of Health only if he’s the only person in the office.
Like most White House staffers who are regularly near Trump, Fauci will now be tested for coronavirus every day. Yesterday, Fauci noted that he tested negative. If required to go to the White House, Fauci said he will take every appropriate precaution.
It was not revealed which White House staffer who has tested positive for COVID-19 was near Fauci. In the past week, Trump’s personal valet, Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant and Mike Pence’s press secretary, Katie Waldman, have all tested positive for coronavirus.