The doctor vs. the White House
Anthony Fauci during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in April. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Dr. Anthony Fauci's goal for his testimony on the Hill today — to warn the country of the dangers of reopening too quickly — precisely undercuts what President Trump and the White House are trying to achieve this week.
The state of play: Trump and his team built its messaging this week around convincing Americans that they had enough testing and personal protective equipment to begin to safely return to work — and Trump has been publicly chiding blue-state governors for keeping their states closed longer than he'd like.
- Fauci plans to tell a Senate hearing Tuesday Americans will face "needless suffering and death" if the U.S. prematurely reopens its economy during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the New York Times reports.
- The NIAID director will testify via videoconference before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee COVID-19 hearing on when it's safe to return to work and school.
What they're saying: "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 in an email to a Times reporter on Monday night.
- "If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: 'Open America Again,' then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country," the top infectious diseases expert continued, in reference to the Trump administration's three-stage plan for states.
- "This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."
Between the lines: So you have the stark spectacle of the nation’s highest profile doctor and member of Trump’s coronavirus task force addressing the nation without the president by his side.
- A big part of the reason some Trump advisers pushed to end his daily briefings — besides the negative political fallout — was because they wanted the public to hear less from the doctors, and more from the economists and the business cheerleaders for reopening.
- Today we see Fauci's messaging run headlong into the White House's.
Of note: This will be the key White House Coronavirus Task Force member's first congressional appearance since President Trump declared a national emergency over the outbreak in March.
Background: Fauci, CDC chief Robert Redfield and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn are testifying remotely while self-isolating — days after Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary Katie Miller and Trump's valet tested positive for COVID-19.
- Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is chairing the hearing remotely while in self-quarantine after a staff member tested positive.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.