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The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other key Trump administration health officials on U.S. efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic while putting people back to work and kids back in school.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is testifying with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services.
The hearing comes as the virus continues to rapidly spread across the U.S., with the seven-day average of new cases growing by 5% or more in at least 40 states across the U.S., including Arizona, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Public health officials and physicians have criticized the Trump administration’s lack of coordinated response to the virus. President Donald Trump has been playing down the outbreak, saying the U.S. is nearing the end of the pandemic, contrary to experts in his own administration.
Meanwhile, U.S. health officials are urging Americans to get a flu vaccine as the coronavirus and seasonal flu in the fall could place a “tremendous burden” on U.S. hospitals.
“In the context of likely ongoing COVID-19 activity, getting a flu vaccine is more important now than ever,” Redfield said in prepared remarks submitted to the committee. “Getting a flu vaccine will help keep you and your loved ones out of a doctor’s offices and hospitals and help conserve scarce medical resources to care for COVID-19 patients.”
Fauci told members of Congress last week that parts of the U.S. are beginning to see a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus infections.
While new Covid-19 cases were declining in New York and elsewhere, cases are rising in other states, reflecting “an increase in community spread,” Fauci told the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week. “That’s something I’m really quite concerned about.”
There are no FDA-approved treatments for the coronavirus. U.S. health officials and scientists are racing to develop a vaccine, which Fauci expects will be ready by early next year.
He is expected to tell the Senate committee that biotech firm Moderna is slated to begin late-stage testing for a potential vaccine in July, pending positive results from a midstage trial.