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The U.S. Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is holding a hearing Thursday to question top officials from the White House coronavirus task force about plans to ease restrictions and reopen the economy.
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci is scheduled to speak as well as Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir and Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, are also due to speak.
Fauci reportedly plans to warn states that prematurely reopening their economies will cause “needless suffering and death,” according to The New York Times.
“The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely,” Fauci wrote to the Times. “If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
President Donald Trump issued broad federal guidelines about a month ago titled “Opening Up America Again.” The guidance lays out criteria for states that includes 14 days of decreases in daily new cases among other measures. States, which have imposed their own containment measures to try to slow the spread of the disease, are not legally required to follow the White House’s instructions.
Dozens of states have since reopened parts of the economy and lifted restrictions. Some states, such as Georgia, did so without meeting the criteria laid out by the White House. The CDC has since created a 17-page report titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” which was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.
The report was supposed to be published at the beginning of this month, but was shelved by the Trump administration. Agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official.