comScore Dr. Fauci Says We Don't Yet Know When We Can Reopen Economy

Buried Lede: Dr. Fauci Says We Are Still Not Doing Coronavirus Testing Needed to Know When Safe to Reopen Economy

As President Donald Trump eyes an “aspirational” Easter timeline for reopening America’s economy, Dr. Anthony Fauci just explained at great length that the United States has not even begun to gather the data to know when or where it would be safe to do so.

Dr. Fauci, the trusted director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is the leading expert on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, made headlines during Thursday night’s CNN town hall when he gently and diplomatically threw cold water on Trump’s Easter timeline.

But Fauci’s impulse to cushion bad news may have caused journalists to miss a rather explosive admission that Fauci made elsewhere in that interview.

Host Anderson Cooper noted that Fauci has previously said that “the virus makes the timeline” for when it’s safe to ease restrictions, asking “Are you confident that the places that haven’t had a lot of reported cases, that that’s just not a question of testing, is it a question of there’s simply — the virus isn’t there?

Fauci told Cooper “it’s probably a combination of both,” and that in places with lower numbers of reported cases, “you’ve got to be very aggressive” at containment, rather than getting “to the point of needing mitigation.”

But Fauci added that in order to do that, “you need to get the data and you need to act on the data, because if it’s escalating, there’s no way you want to tone down. You want to be able to suppress what’s there while it’s at a low level.”

“So you want to see more testing, especially in places where, you know, they have low numbers of cases in order to gather data,” Cooper said, asking, “Are there people gathering that data? Are they doing the contact tracing in states that have less than 200 cases?”

Fauci talked about Trump’s letter to governors suggesting guidelines for social distancing based on geographical risk, and said, very nicely and hopefully, that the data-gathering needed is currently in the “attempt” stage.

“The CDC has networks that are really for flu surveillance,” Fauci told Cooper. “And you could adapt those networks to be coronavirus surveillance. When you do that, then you could plug in the identification, isolation, and contact tracing.”

“Again, it’s an attempt to do that. I hope they’ll be successful, but that’s what the plan is, to use that network to do the kind of surveillance we’ve done with flu,” Fauci said.

Fauci’s remarks come a full two weeks after he testified before Congress about the need for surveillance testing, and similarly said that plans were underway to roll out surveillance across the country.

Watch the clip above via CNN.

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