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“You’re Putting Words In My Mouth”: Dr. Fauci Shuts Down GOP Rep During House Hearing

Dr. Fauci, along with other members of the White House COVID-19 Task Force, also reiterated that the virus “will likely continue for some time.”

Dr. Fauci testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on Capitol Hill on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. | Getty Images
Dr. Fauci testifies before a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on Capitol Hill on July 31, 2020 in Washington, DC. | Getty Images

Leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and other members of the White House coronavirus task force testified before a House subcommittee Friday. While they warned that the spread of coronavirus would "likely continue for some time," they also spoke optimistically about vaccine trials and their progress. 

During his opening testimony, Fauci said a COVID-19 vaccine is in the third trial phase, and encouraged those who are interested in participating in clinical trials to register at coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org. He also said this trial will continue over several months and involve 30,000 individuals.

“I just want to use my last couple of seconds to urge anyone who’s listening who wants to participate to please go to that website and register so that you can be part of the solution of this terrible scourge,” he said. 

Fauci said he believed “ultimately over a period of time in 2021, if we have — and I think we will have — a safe and effective vaccine, that Americans will be able to get it,” but stressed that its availability will likely be phased and not everyone will be able to get it immediately. 

He also resisted Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) repeated attempts to press him on whether individuals around the country should stop ongoing anti-racism protests to slow the spread of the virus. 

“I’m not favoring anybody over anybody,” Fauci said. “I’m just making a statement that is a broad statement, avoid crowds of any type, no matter where you are, because that leads to the acquisition and transmission.”

When Rep. Jordan continued to try to get Fauci to weigh in on the actions of protesters specifically, Fauci said, “I don’t know how many times I can answer that. I’m not going to opine on limiting anything.”

Fauci expressed his frustration with the line of questioning, telling Jordan: “I don’t understand what you’re asking me, as a public health official, to opine on who should get arrested or not,” when the Ohio representative used his time to condemn Portland protesters. “That’s not my position [to answer],” Fauci added. “You could ask me as much as you want, and I’m not going to answer it.”

“So the protests don’t increase the spread of the virus?” Rep. Jordan needled.

“I didn’t say that. You’re putting words in my mouth,” Fauci responded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's director, Dr. Robert Redfield, was also at the hearing and addressed its new guidelines that the Trump Administration released that favored children returning to school. 

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In support of schools opening in the fall, Redfield said that keeping them closed can result in "significant public health consequences." Fauci said schools should reopen “as best as we possibly can in the context of the safety of the children and the teachers.”

However, in a joint testimony, the task force members also emphasized that the virus isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“While it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” they said.