Dr. Anthony Fauci finally appeared before the Senate today to offer public testimony. A lot of what he said was expected, as he gave The New York Times a sneak peek beforehand.
Fauci intends to warn the Senate on Tuesday that Americans would experience “needless suffering and death” if the country opens up too quickly. https://t.co/hhrdlDxOuB
— Hunter Schwarz (@hunterschwarz) May 12, 2020
I’m of the opinion that Fauci shouldn’t be saying things like this. His role is to advise, not make definitive statements that pretend this pandemic is happening in a vacuum. “Needless suffering and death” is also going to happen if we fully destroy our economy, and we are already pretty close to that threshold as it is.
We’ve seen numerous articles and studies come out in the last week suggesting tens of thousands could die from suicide and substance abuse alone. That’s not even taking into account those being put at risk from a lack of preventative care, elective treatments, reluctance to see a doctor, etc. How many cancer patients not getting chemo right now have died and will die?
Fauci doesn’t ever seem to take any of that into account, which is fine if he’s just advising on this pandemic, but not so fine if he’s going to make sweeping public statements that serve to form narratives in service of perpetual lockdowns.
Here are a few of the comments he actually made during his testimony.
Dr. Fauci: There is no way to have students feel completely safe next school term without a vaccine, and it is not happening that soon, even at the top speed we're going. Only through testing.
— Peter Morley (@morethanmySLE) May 12, 2020
Again, I don’t think he should be saying things like this. Feeling “completely safe” is a speculative, arbitrary measure that may be in conflict with what the best policy decisions are. There will be no vaccine by the start of the school year. We know that. Is Fauci suggesting we can’t return to school in the fall unless everyone feels completely safe? Because that would essentially seal the country’s fate economically, putting millions more at risk.
Fauci also speculated the death toll is higher than reported.
Fauci says he believes the actual death toll from the Coronavirus 'is likely higher' than the 80,000 deaths in the US currently reported
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) May 12, 2020
What is that based on? His gut feeling? We know many states are reporting assumed deaths already. What basis is there to claim deaths are likely higher, at least to the point of it being noteworthy?
Eventually, Fauci received some pushback from Sen. Rand Paul.
Sen. Rand Paul:
"The history of this when we look back will be wrong prediction after wrong prediction after wrong prediction… As much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don't think you're the end all, I don't think you're the one person that gets to make a decision." pic.twitter.com/SP9T638y2B
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) May 12, 2020
Fauci would go on to quip that he’s never said he’s the “end-all.” While that may be true, he isn’t naive enough to not realize that many people see him as that. That means his words carry incredible weight, perhaps more than the President’s. Too often, he’s chosen to produce conflicting commentary or repeat doomsday predictions regarding re-openings that haven’t been born out by the facts. For example, Georgia started their re-opening over two weeks ago. They are still seeing cases decline. The same is true for Florida.
If I had to summarize the issue, Fauci comes across as wanting to treat the entire country like New York City, whether he means for that to happen or not. That’s not a sustainable strategy, and in the absence of an alternative to a total economic meltdown, his statements aren’t helping with clarity regarding a legitimate path forward.
Unfortunately, like all things in politics, this discussion has become polarized on the right, to the point where any criticism of Fauci results in charges of conspiracy theories and wanting people to die. That’s nonsense. It’s possible to believe Fauci has overstepped and/or been too loose with his pronouncements without believing he’s working for Bill Gates or any other such lunacy.
At the end of the day, hard decisions have to be made by the President and the governors throughout the country. Those decisions can’t be made in the vacuum Facui resides in and speaks from.