- Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told House lawmakers: "It would be nice if the office were still there."
- Fauci said that in terms of the coronavirus outbreak in the US the bottom line is that "it's going to get worse."
- In the US, at least 31 people have died, and there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases.
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As he warned that the worst is yet to come in terms of the coronavirus outbreak the US, the nation's top infectious disease expert told House lawmakers it "would be nice" if President Donald Trump hadn't eliminated the National Security Council's global health unit.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a House Oversight Committee hearing said: "We worked very well with that office. It would be nice if the office were still there."
Trump in May 2018 ordered the NSC's entire global health security unit to be closed, and reassigned Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, who would've overseen the US response to a pandemic in that role. This came not long after then-National Security Adviser John Bolton pushed out White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert . Bossert had pushed for a robust strategy against pandemics and biological attacks.
The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism over its response to coronavirus, and apparent lack of preparedness, particularly in terms of problems that have led to a lack of testing kits.
In Wednesday's hearing, Fauci presented the coronavirus outbreak to lawmakers in stark terms, and warned against large gatherings.
"We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience as the NBA plays, so be it," he said. "We will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now... Bottom line: it's going to get worse."
When pushed for projections on the potential scale of the outbreak, Fauci said : "I can't give you a realistic number until we put into the factor of how we respond. If we are complacent and don't do really aggressive containment and mitigation, the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions."
Fauci, who has been widely applauded for being a voice of clarity amid the coronavirus outbreak as Trump continues to contradict experts and spread disinformation, was also urged by Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts to push back when the president is at odds with the facts.
"The president has made some bizarre statements here," Lynch said. "The cases are not going down. The American people should be aware of that. You should be forthright in explaining that."
"I have never ever held back telling exactly what is going on from a public health standpoint," Fauci, who has advised six presidents, said in response.
Globally, more than 121,500 people have been infected with coronavirus and over 4,300 have died. In the US, at least 31 people have died, and there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases. The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared coronavirus a pandemic.
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