At Hearing, White House Task Force Members Confirm Failed U.S. Response Made Coronavirus Crisis Worse
Washington, D.C. (July 31, 2020) — Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn, held a hybrid in-person/remote hearing with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services Admiral Brett Giroir.
Chairman Clyburn noted in his opening statement that the United States is in the midst of a “public health catastrophe,” with more than 4.4 million total cases and 150,000 deaths—far more than any other country.
Dr. Fauci testified that the government’s failed response led the United States to have a far worse virus outbreak than in Europe. He explained that European countries shut down “to the tune of 95-plus percent of the country,” but the United States did not:
“When you actually look at what we did, even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent in the sense of the totality of the country. … There were some states that did it really well and there are some states that did not…. Some [guidelines] were followed very carefully and some were not. And in those situations, in which they were not—that led to the surging that you are showing on your chart there.”
Dr. Fauci also rejected the false claim from President Trump—made in a tweet during the hearing—that the United States has more cases than Europe “because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World.” Asked by Rep. Nydia Velázquez whether the increase in cases in the United States is due to increased testing, Dr. Fauci stated: “The increases that we are seeing are real increasing in cases, as also reflected by increasing in hospitalization and increasing in deaths.”
The witnesses provided the following additional testimony:
Dr. Fauci Disputed President Trump’s Misinformation
- Asked by Rep. Jamie Raskin if the coronavirus is a “hoax,” Dr. Fauci responded, “No.”
- Asked whether the coronavirus will miraculously “just disappear,” Dr. Fauci responded, “I do not believe it would disappear because it is such a highly transmissible virus.”
- Asked whether hydroxychloroquine can treat the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci said the drug has not been shown to be effective, explaining, “overwhelming, cumulative evidence of properly conducted randomized control trials indicate no therapeutic efficacy for hydroxychloroquine.”
- Dr. Fauci stated that people cannot cure themselves of the coronavirus by injecting themselves with disinfectant.
- Dr. Fauci clarified that the coronavirus is not transmitted by wearing a mask, a claim recently made by Representative Louie Gohmert, who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week.
Dr. Fauci Confirmed that Children Are Not Immune to the Coronavirus
- When asked by Rep. Maxine Waters whether the President is correct that “young people are almost immune” to the coronavirus, Dr. Fauci flatly rejected the idea: “Children do get infected. We know that. So therefore, they are not immune.”
More than 40 Percent of Test Results Are Too Slow To Be Useful
- Admiral Giroir acknowledged that more than 40 percent of test results take more than three days and 24 percent take more than five days. He said, “The current data we have from the large commercial labs are that 59 percent of all tests are reported within 3 days, 76 percent within 5 days.”
- Dr. Fauci explained: “There is no doubt, and I have said this myself, if you have to wait multiple days for the result of a test and the test is done in the context of contact tracing, that it in many respects obviates the whole purpose of doing it because if you have to wait that long, a person has already been out in the community for that period of time.” He further explained, “it is an issue if you cannot get it within a 24 to 48 hour period.”
- Dr. Giroir conceded the Trump Administration is not publishing data in its possession regarding the time it takes to report test results.
- Admiral Giroir asserted that wait times are improving, but conceded, “because of unprecedented demand, large commercial labs that do approximately half of the nation’s testing have become strained.”
The CDC Director Was Not Consulted Before the Administration Diverted Hospitalization Data
- Asked by Rep. Waters when he first learned that hospitalization data was being transferred away from CDC to a private contractor hired by HHS, Dr. Redfield stated, “I wasn’t involved in the decision” and said, “I was told actually once the Secretary’s office made the decision, that that was the decision."