U.S. Senators discuss reopening schools and workplaces, stressing “more testing” is needed

WASHINGTON DC — After two White House staffers tested positive for COVID-19, and several other staffers and officials were placed under quarantine, President Donald Trump assured the public on Monday that the spread of the coronavirus right inside the white house was nothing to be worried about.

But when pressed on why he keeps bragging about the U.S. having the best virus testing in the world, and why it seems that he is making it a competition in the midst of the daily devastating loss of life, President Trump had no clear answer.

He instead attacked the media and abruptly ended his press briefing.

Meanwhile, at a high-profile Senate hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers and witnesses joined via video conference to discuss reopening workplaces and schools amid the pandemic.

Senators from both parties stressed that more testing needs to be done.

“Staying at home indefinitely is not the solution to this pandemic. There is not enough money available to help all those hurt by a closed economy. All roads back to work, back to school lead through testing, tracking, isolation, treatment and vaccines. This requires widespread testing.”

“We need dramatically more testing. It is unacceptable we still don’t have a national strategic plan to make sure testing is free, fast and everywhere.”

The testimony of the country’s top infectious disease expert was the most anticipated at the hearing. Dr. Fauci once again amplified his message that if states do not adhere to the federal guidelines on reopening and do things prematurely, there could be dire consequences.

“If course, if you do not do an adequate response, we will have the deleterious consequence of more infections and more deaths,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci,  Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Jumpcut if we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence. I would hope by that point in time in the fall that we have more than enough to respond adequate. But if we don’t, there will be problems.”

Fauci disagreed with the confidence of some state officials and even president trump that the pandemic is completely under control.

“I mean, if you look at the dynamics of the outbreak, we are seeing a diminution of hospitalizations and infections in some places, such as in new york city, which has plateaued and starting to come down, New Orleans. But in other parts of the country, we are seeing spikes.”

Fauci was challenged by senator rand paul on his thoughts on children going back to school without a vaccine available, and the scientist said it is highly unlikely a vaccine would be ready by the fall.

“Even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term. What they really want is to know if they are safe,” said Fauci.

“We don’t know everything about this virus. And we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe. For example, right now children presenting with COVID-16, COVID-19, who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, very similar to Kawasaki Syndrome. I think we better be careful that we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”

The U.S. now has more than 1,358,000 cases of COVID-19, resulting in more than 81,500 deaths so far.

(Cover photo: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wears a face mask as he walks through the halls of the Hart Senate Office Building during a break in a Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the COVID-19  outbreak on Capitol Hill, May 12, 2020. Reuters/Carlos Barria)
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