The Trump administration’s decision to leave coronavirus shutdown decisions to the states created a patchwork of policies that effectively only imposed restrictions on about half of the country, NIH infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci told a House hearing on Friday.
“There were some states that did it very well, and there were some states did not,” Fauci told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Friday morning without elaborating.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases appeared with CDC Director Robert Redfield and Trump administration testing czar Brett Giroir at the hearing as the scope of the outbreak continued to spread north and toward the coasts. Spread is only contained in 12 states while 27 are exhibiting new all-time highs, according to a daily update from Morgan Stanley.
Panel Chair Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) sought to contrast Covid-19 cases in the United States and Europe, where nations took a more centralized approach to restrictions. Responding to a chart Clyburn displayed, Fauci noted European countries shut down activities “to the tune of 95-plus percent of the country” and brought cases down to a much lower baseline for disease spread before reopening.
“We started off with a very difficult baseline of transmission that was going on when we tried to open up the country,” he said. “Then we saw an increase of cases to 20, 30, 50,000 and a couple of weeks ago it was up to 70,000 cases a day.”
Fauci also reiterated his belief that a coronavirus vaccine will be developed by the end of the year, citing promising new data from trials in animals and humans, and sought to assure the public that no corners were being cut.
“I know to some people this seems like it is so fast that there might be compromising of safety or scientific integrity,” he said. “I can tell you that is absolutely not the case.”
President Donald Trump also weighed in during the testimony, tweeting that Clyburn “doesn’t have a clue” and repeating the false claim that cases are higher in the U.S. because the U.S. tests more than any country.