U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Senator Warren: "We need leaders - starting with President Trump - who have enough backbone to face reality, distribute our resources, set our standards, and stick to them. Because if we don't, the result is going to be more economic wreckage and more death."
During the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed to United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that the numbers show the United States is going in the "wrong direction" and stated that the U.S. could see 100,000 cases a day if the nation fails to reverse course.
On the day Dr. Fauci testified before the HELP committee on May 12, 2020, there were about 21,000 new cases of coronavirus. Yesterday, there were around 40,000 new cases of coronavirus. During the last HELP hearing, Dr. Fauci confirmed to Senator Warren that the US did not "by any means" have "total control of this outbreak," but he thought that we were "going in the right direction."
During today's hearing, Senator Warren stressed that we need a national strategy that makes testing available widely, expand contact tracing everywhere, and we need leaders — starting with President Trump — who have enough backbone to face reality, distribute resources, set standards, and stick to them. If we don't, the result will be more economic wreckage and more death.
The full transcript and video of her exchange with Dr. Fauci is available below.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Transcript: HELP Hearing on COVID-19: Update on Progress Toward Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School
June 30, 2020 at 10:00am
Senator Warren: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Fauci you came before the HELP committee seven weeks ago to discuss the country's response to the COVID-19 and at the time, you told me that the U.S. did not "by any means have total control over this outbreak," but you also told me that we were "going in the right direction." Now on the day you testified before the committee, that was May 12th 2020, there were about 21,000 new cases of coronavirus. Yesterday, there were about 40,000 new cases of coronavirus. Dr. Fauci, do these numbers show that the country is still moving "in the right direction" and that the coronavirus pandemic is under control?
Dr. Fauci: Well, I think the numbers speak for themselves, although we do have a number of parts of the country that are doing well, I'm very concerned about what's going on right now--particularly in the four states that are accounting for about 50% of the new infections. But the other vulnerable states, so I'd have to say the numbers speak for themselves. I'm very concerned and I'm not satisfied with what's going on because we're going in the wrong direction if you look at the curves of the new cases. So we really got to do something about that and we need to do it quickly. Short answer to your question is that clearly we are not in total control right now.
Senator Warren: Thank you. Thank you very much. You know our case numbers are getting worse and our death rates are gonna get worse soon. During this same period of time, some other countries around the world have controlled the virus. They're reporting fewer cases each day and they are able to provide targeted testing and to keep it up so that they can tell what's happening and follow-up if there is an outbreak. In other words, controlling the coronavirus can be done, but because of bad federal leadership we have not been able to do this here in the United States. So, Dr. Fauci the last time you were before this committee you told me that if the U.S. did not have "an adequate response" that the country would "have the deleterious consequences of more infections and more deaths." Now I know that we've made some progress, but half measures won't save lives. Dr. Fauci, I'm asking you to be very direct with all of us on this. If we don't fully implement the widespread testing, contract tracing programs and social distancing practices that everyone seems to agree that we need, can we expect these spikes in infections to keep happening in different places around the country?
Dr. Fauci: Thank you, Senator. I'm always direct with you, and I'll tell you in direct answer to your question that if you look at what's going on and just look at some of the film clips that you've seen of people congregating, often without masks, of being in crowds and jumping over and avoiding and not paying attention to the guidelines that we very carefully put out, we're going to continue to be in a lot of trouble and there's going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop.
Senator Warren: If we don't get our act together, more and more communities around the country are going to see these dangerous surges of COVID-19. Dr. Fauci, back in March you also said "looking at what we're seeing now" you expected there to be between 100,000 and 200,000 coronavirus deaths and millions of infections in the U.S. So, let's flash forward to late June, here we are at the end of June. We've already seen 126,000 deaths with infection rates rising rapidly. Dr. Fauci, based on what you're seeing now, how many COVID-19 deaths and infections should America expect before this is all over?
Dr. Fauci: I can't make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing. I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they're doing well, they are vulnerable. I made that point very clearly last week at a press conference. We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk. We are now having 40+ thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned.
Senator Warren: Can you make any kind of estimate on what we're looking at overall on the number of deaths before this is over? You made an estimate back in March ... between 100,000 and 200,000, but we have a lot more information now. You know, we're already at 126,000 deaths.
Dr. Fauci: Right, I can't make a estimation because that would have to be modeled out. Because when models are done, and that's where those original numbers came from, Senator. As I've said very often, models are as good as the assumptions that you put into the model and those assumptions often change depending upon what your response is. So I would really be hesitant to give a number that will come back and either be contradicted or overblown or underblown, but i think it's important to tell you and the American public that I'm very concerned because it could get very bad.
Senator Warren: Yeah. Alright, I appreciate that Dr. Fauci. Look, we all want our economy to recover.
Chairman Alexander: We're well overtime, Senator Warren.
Senator Warren: I'd just like the same time that my Republican colleagues got. Because I want to say ...
Chairman Alexander: Alright, then your time is up, Senator Warren.
Senator Warren: But we can't keep pretending ...
Chairman Alexander: Senator Warren. I'm being just as fair to you as I was to Senator Sanders and others.
Senator Warren: My Republican colleagues got a lot more time.
Chairman Alexander: Senator Warren.
Senator Warren: Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Alexander: I always treat you fairly and I would appreciate you respecting the Chairman's rules. If you'd like to make a closing statement, go ahead and do it. But I don't appreciate your questioning the fairness in presiding over the hearing because I've been scrupulously fair.
Senator Warren: Thank you, I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman. I was under the understanding, based on what others had done, that you were allowing more time since we had such important witnesses. I appreciate you giving me the time.
Chairman Alexander: When you're Chairman you can ... you can make those decisions.
Senator Warren: Thank you. You know, I just want to make the point that we can't keep pretending this virus is getting better when it isn't. That's how we end up with messes like this situation in Texas. Racing to reopen too soon, then scrambling to close down before the hospitals get completely overwhelmed. If we don't get our act together, this is our future, seesawing back and forth between too few restrictions and then exploding cases and repeated shutdowns. In this future, thousands more Americans will die and our economy will be brought to its knees. We've got to have a national strategy that makes testing available to every school, every business, every hospital, every church, anywhere that Americans come together. We need to expand contact tracing and we need leaders starting with President Trump, who have enough backbone to face reality, distribute our resources, set our standards, and stick to them. Because if we don't, the result is going to be more economic wreckage and more death. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Alexander: Thank you, Senator Warren.