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Under Questioning From Kaine, Dr. Fauci Agrees US COVID-19 Death Rate Is ‘Unacceptable’


WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, in a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield about the Trump Administration’s failure to mitigate the COVID-19 death toll in the United States. Kaine highlighted the stark differences in the death rate in the U.S. compared to South Korea. The two nations confirmed their first cases of COVID-19 on the same day, but South Korea’s death toll as of yesterday was 256 while the United States’ death toll increased to more than 81,000 in that same time period.

“If we want to open up our economy and schools, we have to learn the lessons of nations that have managed this well,” Kaine said.

Kaine pressed the officials on four key factors in the United States’ COVID-19 response: testing, contact tracing, social distancing, and health care systems. Dr. Fauci agreed with Kaine that the death toll is “unacceptable,” America must do better, and access to health care helps keep people safer.

In response to Kaine’s question on contact tracing, Dr. Redfield conceded, “When the outbreak started, sir, we had an aggressive contact tracing program, but unfortunately as the cases rose, it went beyond the capacity and then we went to mitigation, so we lost the containment edge.”

On health care systems, Kaine highlighted that millions of Americans lacked access to health care before COVID-19. He said, “the massive job losses in the last months threaten to take health insurance away from millions more. And President Trump is doing all he can to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which would take health insurance away from tens of millions more.”