The tone remained civil, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) were not on the same page when the former testified remotely before the Senate on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday.
Paul, who has recovered from a reportedly asymptomatic case of COVID-19, made the argument that kids — who have low mortality rates — should return to school next fall. He said Fauci and other experts need to be "humble" about what they don't know about the virus, adding that Fauci isn't the "end all" of coronavirus-related decisions.
Dr. Fauci to Sen. Rand Paul on COVID-19:
Based on data, children generally do "much better than adults and the elderly, and particularly those with underlying conditions. But, I am very careful, and hopefully humble, in knowing that I don't know everything about this disease." pic.twitter.com/6vtcdFYN1i
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) May 12, 2020
Fauci replied that he doesn't consider himself the ultimate authority. Instead, he said his job as a public health official mandates he give advice based on scientific evidence. In fact, he said, the reason he's not ready to support opening schools or the economy is because he's aware there's a lot he doesn't know about the new virus. He noted that while it's clear kids respond much better to infections generally, there are worrying cases of a mysterious inflammatory disease possibly linked to COVID-19 found in children.
Fauci's words didn't seem to have much of an effect on Paul's thinking, though. As he left the chamber, he said he believes government intervention hasn't altered the virus' trajectory, even in hot spots like New York.
Sen. Paul leaves coronavirus hearing and tells cameras: “here’s the other question and this is unprovable. I think New York would have lost the same amount of people whether we did anything or not”
“A lot of what happens with the virus is independent of what government does”
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) May 12, 2020