What Fauci, other health officials have to say at coronavirus hearing

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other key Trump administration health officials are testifying before a House committee Tuesday on the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is joining Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn and Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Here are some highlights from prepared remarks (full testimony is below):

  • Redfield reiterated that Americans get a flu vaccine as the coronavirus and seasonal flu in the fall could place a “tremendous burden” on U.S. hospitals.
  • Fauci listed major vaccines in development, including a potential vaccine from biotech Moderna. The company is slated to begin late-stage testing in July, pending positive results from a mid-stage trial.
  • Hahn said the FDA has reached out to over 1,000 manufacturers since January and has helped facilitate an increase of the availability of personal protection equipment for health-care workers.
  • Giroir said the Trump administration is now reviewing Covid-19 testing plans from each state, territory, and major city public health unit. He said the administration’s priority is to ensure that people who need testing receive it. 

The coronavirus, which has sickened more than 2.4 million Americans, continues to rapidly spread throughout the United States. As of Monday, the U.S. seven-day average of new infections increased more than 30% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Cases are growing by 5% or more in 26 states, including Arizona, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise as well.

As cases and hospitalizations are rising, public health experts are criticizing the lack of a coordinated and strategic response from the Trump administration.

The White House insists the pandemic is “still a priority” for the administration, even as President Donald Trump plays down the threat. Trump tweeted earlier Tuesday that “with smaller testing we would show fewer cases,” reiterating his claims that more testing was the reason the U.S. has the most cases in the world.

While testing has increased in the U.S., public health experts and infectious disease specialists say the numbers are also increasing because some states failed to eliminate their initial coronavirus outbreaks and new outbreaks are developing at the same time. 

The hearing is likely to discuss testing as well as other government response efforts such as vaccines, treatments and contact tracing. 

Read the prepared testimony below:

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