July 1, 2020 -- The U.S. has reported more than 40,000 new coronavirus cases per day recently, and that could surge to 100,000, one of the nation’s top infectious diseases experts told Congress.
“I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Senate hearing Tuesday.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing to talk about COVID-19 and safely returning to work and school. Fauci testified along with other top coronavirus experts, including CDC Director Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Fauci pointed to the lack of social distancing and masks, large crowds and quick reopening plans in certain states. He said that the surge in cases in the South and West “puts the entire country at risk.”
“We’re going to continue to be in a lot of trouble,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop.”
The four experts also talked about the need to build “vaccine confidence” for people who are still hesitant about receiving one. Redfield said the CDC has spent three months on a plan to educate the public and intends to release it in coming weeks.
“We need to see that plan,” Patty Murray, a Senator from Washington and the committee’s top Democrat, responded to Redfield. “We need to know what it is. The public needs to know what it is.”
Fauci also spoke about community engagement and people’s fears of vaccines. Clinical trial sites have included an education program to build trust, he added. Even still, skepticism about vaccines came up several times during the hearing.
“It is a reality — a lack of trust of authority, a lack of trust in government and a concern about vaccines in general,” he said.
Fauci highlighted the need for public health officials to spread the message in minority communities that haven’t been treated fairly by the government or the health care system in the past.
“Public confidence in vaccines is so important,” Hahn said. “We have an obligation to use all of our scientific knowledge [and] regulatory framework to ensure than any vaccine that comes before us … meets our stringent standards for safety and effectiveness.”