Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming strongly defended White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci as one of the “finest public servants we have ever had” and urged Americans to thank him “every day.”
Cheney tweeted her praise of the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert on Tuesday after Fauci testified in the Senate’s first hearing on the coronavirus outbreak since March. Cheney is the third-highest-ranking representative in GOP House leadership.
Fauci offered guidance about stay-at-home orders and expressed his concerns in the hearing, which was titled “COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and School.”
“My concern that if some areas ― cities, states or what have you ― jump over those various checkpoints and prematurely open up, without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Fauci added that there is “real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”
Cheney’s tweet directly contradicted comments by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) challenging Fauci’s testimony. Paul argued that, outside of New England, the virus has had a “relatively benign course” and that schools must reopen in the fall.
“As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all,” Paul said. “I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and that we can safely open the economy. And the facts will bear this out. But if we keep kids out of school for another year, what’s going to happen is, the poor and unprivileged kids who don’t have a parent that’s able to teach them at home are not going to learn for a full year.”
Fauci responded to Paul’s remarks by saying that he “never made myself out to be the end-all” or the “only voice” during the pandemic.
“I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official,” Fauci said. “I give advice according to the best scientific evidence.” He added that he only gives advice on public health and not “economic things.”
Fauci stressed that we don’t know everything about COVID-19 and that we need to be “very careful, particularly when it comes to children.”
“I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” Fauci said.
Fauci added that while he thinks Paul is correct in his thinking that the virus does not affect young people as badly as older or immunocompromised people, he stressed that he is “very careful” because of the unknowns.
“You’re right, in the numbers that children, in general, do much, much better than adults and the elderly, and particularly those with underlying conditions,” Fauci said. “But I am very careful and hopefully humble that I don’t know everything about this disease, and that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”
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