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Fauci, Top Health Experts Testify on U.S. Virus Response. Aired 11:30a-12p ET.

Aired July 31, 2020 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It's fully eligible.

We don't need to change a law -- billions of dollars. Every state has money for supplies. If you run out, give us a call. But right now there is money in your state's account to buy supplies, masks, sanitizers to safely reopen.

[11:30:02]

But now, let's talk about why it's so important to safely reopen, and I'll ask you, Dr. Redfield, because I know you've got -- done a lot of work in this. We -- we see, for example, the District of Columbia is currently saying that they're not going to reopen with in-school learning.

There's not been a single death -- not a single death of anybody under the age of 19 in the District of Columbia. In fact, in Virginia, you're seeing Northern Virginia take this same closed-minded approach. Not a single death in the entire part -- the entire state of Virginia of a person under the age of 19 from COVID-19.

But now, let's talk about the danger, the detriment that this is doing to those children. I want to dig deeper into the studies I've seen on some of the things you talk about. Mental health, a lack of screening for child abuse. I've seen that maybe 14,000 cases of child abuse are reported in schools every year.

That's not happening, and for those children that are in those home settings where the parents are abusing the children, nobody's getting reported because the children are sitting at home.

They're not right now, in many of these cases, going to be allowed to go into the school where it can be detected, and it is detected every year. I know we don't talk about it a lot. It's an unfortunate part of our country's society, but it happens. Children are abused, and in so many cases it's detected in the school. That's not going to happen if these schools don't open.

Can you talk about those numbers? Have you seen some of that data?

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Well, Congressman, I can just reemphasize what you've said, and it's obviously one of the more disturbing consequences of the lack, now, of that reporting, not just at schools, which have been so responsible for mandatory reporting, child abuse, but the other place that sometimes it's recognized is obviously in the clinical setting, and as we know, pediatric visits have been curtailed in a lot of clinical settings.

So, I mean, it is a highly significant situation now and you could imagine what it must be like to be one of those recurrently abused children that has sort of lost their safety nets.

SCALISE: Well thank -- and -- and I apologize, we're -- we're running low on time. I would just urge any local school system that's making their decisions, go look at the CDC guidelines, go look at all of the data that's out there for teachers, for students, how to safely reopen. You can do it. You owe it to those kids -- 50,000 kids in the District of Columbia.

Over 50 million children are counting on us to do this right. It can be done. You have to go do it, you owe it to those kids. They're being denied that opportunity. Don't deny them. If you need money, there's billions of dollars sitting out there for the supplies to keep the schools safe. Go make it happen.

Dr. Fauci, I want to talk to you about Operation Warp Speed and first, I want to thank you for, in your opening statement, talking about the over 250,000 people have signed up for those clinical trials. What's that website again, if somebody in America wants to be a part of this trial?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Coronavirustreatmentprevention.org.

SCALISE: Thank you. Now to ask about -- and I know a lot of people don't really know the details -- and -- and again, all of these plans that are out there, these are plans -- I know some people, including some people in this room, disagreed with President Trump's decision to stop flights from China, for example.

As you testified earlier, it was the right decision and it saved lives. I guess they were OK if more lives would've been lost but that decision saved lives. It was part of a plan -- they might not agree with the plan but the plan saved lives.

When we talk about Warp Speed, I -- I do think it's real important to note, cause some people are concerned that there might be some cutting of corners to get to a quicker vaccine.

Clearly, that's not the case but what President Trump really has done is remove red tape so that agencies like the FDA can laser focus on putting their efforts behind finding a vaccine. President Trump's work, for example, to make sure that clinical trials can be run simultaneously on the most promising candidates, a very targeted plan to quickly find a vaccine that's safe.

So if you want to talk about Operation Warp Speed, how safe it's been and how that is helping us to move forward, it is red tape being removed by the plan that President Trump has.

FAUCI: Yes it is, Congressman. In fact, as I mentioned -- and I'll just reconfirm it right now -- is that the speed is not at all at the compromising of safety, nor of scientific integrity. Getting from the sequence to the vaccine production was record speed, had nothing to do with safety, had nothing to do with cutting corners.

From the vaccine to the phase one, again, was in record speed only because red tape was -- was -- was really avoided and as we got into phase three, the same thing.

SCALISE: And have you seen concerns about China trying to steal that information? I understand NIH has an investigation going on. We've seen cases where China's trying to steal this information. Clearly they're a threat that President Trump is taking on.

What have you seen and what is the --

FAUCI: Yeah, I have -- I have heard that there's been -- trying to be hacking into the websites and the -- and the online components of certain -- of the people who are developing vaccines.

[11:35:07]

I've just heard that, I have no proof of that.

SCALISE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

FAUCI: Yeah.

CLYBURN: I thank the gentleman for yielding back. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes Ms. Waters.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Thank you very much. Let me first say that I was pleased to hear the very, very warm comments about John Lewis this morning. We have been memorializing him in so many different ways but, you know, between the press and everybody else, we've been doing him justice for the sacrifices that he has made.

And let me just tell you, this virus is not Democrat or Republican. I'm going to send my condolences to the family of Herman Cain, who was a presidential candidate, who was a good friend of the President, who happened to have been at the rally in Tulsa, June 20th, with no mask on, with a group of people around him with no mask on and he's dead, he died.

I'm told that he was in good health and that he, of course, contacted the virus as a result of his attendance and without a mask there. So my condolences to his family because like I said, this is not Democrat or Republican.

I just want to remind the committee that I spoke earlier about the manipulation of hospitalization data and what the President has done, basically ordering hospitals to change how they report hospitalization rates. And I drafted an amendment to -- H.R. 7617, one of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations packages that includes the Department of Health and Human Services.

My amendment, which prohibits any funds from being used to require hospitals -- hospital laboratories and acute care facilities to report COVID-19 data under requirements imposed by the Trump administration's new rule was adopted. I look forward to preventing a harm that I believe will lead to senseless and avoidable suffering.

Let me go further and say that I'm alarmed by the way that the President is handling so-called information about children and their ability to return to school. This is a president who first called the pandemic a hoax, this is a president who said it was just going to disappear, this is a president who said you don't really need masks, he didn't believe in them.

He's got religion in the last few days. This is a president who disregarded social distancing. This is a president who recommended hydroxychlorophine (sic) as a cure and this is a president who went so far as to say disinfectant could be used.

And so now, this president who expects us to believe him rather than the medical experts, is saying children are almost immune. Is that an expert medical conclusion, Dr. Fauci, that children are -- whatever that means. What does that mean, children are almost immune from this virus?

FAUCI: Well generally, when you say a person is immune, that they're protected from getting infected. And children do get infected.

WATERS: And so this -- this is not an expert medical conclusion that we have had documented somewhere?

FAUCI: Well, I mean, if you're talking about a conclusion that children -- children in general are immune, that children do get infected, we know that, so therefore they're not immune.

(CROSSTALK)

FAUCI: -- they -- they -- they -- what I must just say, Congresswoman, that when children get infected, that when you look at the deleterious consequences, they generally do much, much better because if you look at the hospitalizations, that children have a much, much lower rate of hospitalizations than adults.

In fact, the curve goes way up as you get older and older, and when you get to the age group of children, they generally do not get serious diseases as much --

WATERS: I understand that and I've been listening and I did understand what you just described but what I was asking really was about this President's latest comment that children are almost immune. And so I think I -- I got the answer to that.

But let me just say to Mr. Scalise that this billions of dollars that you're talking about in every state, I don't know where they are, but you keep referring to supplies. It's more than about supplies, it's more than about being able to wash your hands, it's about space and whether or not all of the schools have the space to do the social distancing, it's about whether or not children are going to wear masks and how that's going to be enforced. It's about how you keep children from gathering. It is about how do you feed them?

It is about more than the fact that they need some supplies.

[11:40:02]

SCALISE: Will the gentlelady yield?

WATERS: Yes, I'll yield.

SCALISE: Clearly, that is all part of what is laid out the CDC guidelines and the center -- in the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, they lay out those guidelines for how to do all of those things. A teacher--

WATERS: OK, reclaiming my time--

SCALISE: -- is usually about 10 feet--

WATERS: -- Reclaiming my--

SCALISE: -- away from a student--

(CROSSTALK)

WATERS: -- time.

(CROSSTALK)

SCALISE: -- yield.

WATERS: Reclaiming my time. Let me just say this. That -- all of the professionals are saying that this is a decision that must be made by parents in the communities with the educators, et cetera, et cetera.

You cannot hand down an answer to -- from the federal government that, you know, would absolutely protect these children. One decision by the federal government is not sufficient to force these schools to open.

I yield back.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I thank the gentlelady for yielding back. Before I go to Mr. Jordan, let me say to Admiral Giroir I understand you need to leave in four minutes.

Would there be anything you would like to enter into the record before leaving?

GIROIR: No, I -- the reason I'm leaving is because we have a meeting virtually with all 6,100 of the Commissioned Corps officers, whom I have the honor to lead along with Surgeon General Adams. We've done over 7,200 deployments of 4,000 individuals. And let me

tell you, the other 2,000 are hard at work, taking care of people at qualified health centers of the Indian Health Service or in the prisons.

So I mean no disrespect by leaving, but this is a time -- crunch time for our officers on the frontline of the pandemic. And I really appreciate the opportunity to recognize them and also to be with my -- with my brothers and sisters in uniform.

CLYBURN: We thank you for your service and we thank you so much for that. I think you'll find me to be the biggest booster in the United States Congress for Federally Qualified Community Health Centers.

I consider them to be the ultimate safety net in health care and I have been that way since I've been in the Congress. I go back over 50 years with community health centers and I believe in them. And thank you so much for bringing them into the process.

And with that, I yield to Mr. Jordan for five minutes.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): The right to protest is important, Mr. Chairman. I have engaged in it with fellow citizens peacefully assembling to talk about important public policy issues. My guess is everyone on this committee, probably everyone in the United States Congress, has done the same thing.

But I think all of the First Amendment is important. Democrats seem to think it's just the right to protest. I think all of it -- you think about the -- the freedoms we have in the First Amendment. Freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assembly, freedom to petition your government, freedom of speech, all of them are important.

And what's interesting to me is the very first one the founders mentioned was your right to practice your faith. But government's putting all kinds of limits on Americans' ability to do that, and Democrats are just fine with it. In fact, Democrat mayor and governors have been sued over limiting people's right to freedom of religion.

I want consistency. That's what -- that's what I want -- I want -- in fact, I'm concerned about the whole Constitution. Democrat mayors and governors limited Americans' right to exercise their Second Amendment liberties, closing down stores that allow people to exercise and purchase firearms and exercise their Second Amendment liberties.

I think it's important that American's get an education. But we've got -- we've got Democrats who say, can't go back to school. Kids can't go get what they need to put them on the path to achieving the American dream. But boy, they can protest. Everyone can protest.

In Portland, in fact, the teachers union says we don't want to go back to school, we don't want to teach kids. But they have actually encouraged teachers to go protest -- the nine week protest going on in Portland, where they burn the city every single night, where just last weekend, three officers were blinded by the lasers that some of these peaceful protesters use.

So I'm concerned about Americans -- all -- all rights, all the -- all kinds of Americans right now aren't permitted to go to work. Maybe it's a small business they started, put their entire life savings on the line, started this business, have a number of employees whose families are counting on them running their business and what's government do -- what do Democrat-led governments do?

They arrest them if they want to run their business. Just ask Ethan Smith (ph) and Frank Trombetta (ph), who run a gym in New Jersey.

So the ability to engage in your livelihood, the ability to have your kids get an education, the ability to practice your faith are just as important, in my mind, as protesting, I just wish the Democrats would look at all of the rights we enjoy as Americans and make sure that they're -- they're dealt with in a consistent fashion.

[11:45:00]

This idea that we're limiting what people can do -- practice their faith, run their business, employ people, engage in their livelihood after they've poured their entire lives, their family's resources into it is just wrong. You know -- you know who else has to go to work? You know what? You know who else has to go to work? Law enforcement has to go to work.

Are you guys tracking what's happening to law enforcement at all at these -- these protests? And I'm not talking about the -- I'm not talking about the 49 police officers who were attacked two weeks ago in Chicago, I'm not talking about the three who were blinded this past weekend in Portland, I'm not even talking about what -- what the Seattle Chief of Police said, when she said she can't deploy -- she had to do an adjusted deployment for her police officers because the protests are so bad and the -- and the defunding concept that -- that is -- that is happening around our country in these municipal -- in these cities -- Chief Bass said she had to do an adjusted deployment, told the citizens "now we're not going to be there, you're on your own" but where they are out there, these police officers, are you guys tracking what's happening to them? Not -- not talking about the violence but the exposure they have to the coronavirus? Dr. Fauci?

FAUCI: I'm sorry, sir, what was the -- the question?

JORDAN: Are you -- are you tracking what's happened to the police officers in their exposure to the coronavirus while they're out doing their job?

FAUCI: I don't do tracking of the infection, that's probably more of a CDC question. I've not tracked --

JORDAN: Is that a concern? You talk about Park Police been under siege, you're talking about law enforcement in our municipalities have been -- been attacked but I'm not -- I'm just talking about the exposure to the virus, as well, when people are yelling and screaming in their face. Are you concerned about that? FAUCI: As I said before, I'm concerned about any crowds, particularly people who don't wear masks. I'm concerned more about indoor crowds than I am at outdoor crowds but crowds without masks are a problem.

JORDAN: Dr. Redfield?

REDFIELD: We continue to -- to look at a variety of a number of first responders in some of our surveys, looking at antibody to try to understand what the virus attack rate is. We do have that for some cities, I don't have it for the west coast right now but we --

JORDAN: So you do have that information on some -- some law enforcement in some cities?

REDFIELD: First responders -- and for example, we've done New York, we've done Detroit, we're doing Rhode Island right now and --

JORDAN: Well that'd be information -- that'd -- that'd be information that'd be helpful to this committee. When -- when I think about what our law enforcement is having to endure, particularly at these protests, not just the violence but the exposure now that they're getting to the -- to the virus from -- from the protesters -- and frankly, I would -- I wish we would get some -- some -- something from the other side.

The silence on what's happening at these protests and the impact it's having on our law enforcement, I think, is -- is -- is just unfortunate. I -- I hope they -- they join us in speaking out against the --

CLYBURN: The gentleman's time --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: -- concept and everything that's happening to law enforcement around the country.

CLYBURN: The gentleman's time has expired and as I yield to Ms. Maloney, I will say to the gentleman I'm sure enough waiting on you to tell me the difference between a first responder and an essential worker. Just think about that for a moment. With that, I yield back -- I yield five minutes to Ms. Maloney.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY (D-NY): I thank the Chairman and -- and the Ranking Member for this incredibly important hearing and -- and for all of our participants, our witnesses. I -- I have two questions that I think are especially relevant that have not been discussed very much.

And one is what is the task force doing in -- in relation to safeguarding elections? We are going to be all voting in November. Some states have vote by mail, other states do not and many people prefer to vote in person and we have guidelines that say social distancing of six feet but possibly could it be changed to three feet if it's going to be a -- a -- a more of a hurried participation? But I think it would be helpful to the American public if the task force considered and came out with clear guidelines for the professionals working in the Board of Elections across the country and the people participating in voting.

So I am making that request. You may want to comment on it now, Dr. Fauci, or get back to us.

FAUCI: I'd be happy to get back to you on that. We could discuss this at a task force meeting, if you'd like, and -- and get back to you, Congresswoman Maloney.

MALONEY: And -- and to the public, I would say.

REDFIELD: Congresswoman, if I could just comment? CDC did in March and updated in June guidelines for polling facilities and we'll obviously be looking at that to see if they need to be updated more.

We do have an MMWR coming out this week looking at the primary results in Wisconsin. So this is an area we're trying to make sure the polling centers and people who go to polling centers to vote understand the importance of the guidance we can give.

[11:50:06]

MALONEY: That -- that would be very, very helpful. Secondly, as a former teacher, I'm concerned about the contradiction in messaging. Now, as a teacher, we're taught to get your facts straight and then communicate it very simply and directly.

So the task force will come out with very important, relevant information and I -- I try to follow it all religiously but then it's countered by other leaders (AUDIO GAP) working in this area say they have to wait so long, especially if it's a private test, like from Quest or something.

The turnaround time is like a week or 16 days in some cases, so then they can't really trace because by the time they get the results of the test to start tracing and isolating, it's too late.

So I'd like both of you to comment on it. This is something that my city's working very, very hard to respond professionally to everything you're recommending but they tell me they're having a terrible time trying to implement the -- the tracing and the isolation and they nail it on the turnaround time from the test is too slow.

FAUCI: Well thank you for the question, Congresswoman Maloney. Admiral Giroir had actually addressed that but I -- maybe I could just summarize what he had said, both in his opening statement and upon response to a question.

There -- there's no doubt -- and I've said that myself -- if you have to wait multiple days for the result of a test and the test is done in the context of contact tracing, that it, in many respects, obviates the whole purpose of doing it because if you have to wait that long, a person has already been out in the community for that period of time. One of the ways to kind of prevent that -- and -- and -- and mitigate that a bit is that if a person goes in for a test, they should assume that it might be positive and should essentially isolate themselves before they go back, until they get the result of the test.

But in response to that, as Admiral Giroir had said, the reason for that is that there's such a surge of demand for tests that they're trying to overcome that by trying to separate the testing for surveillance and give it, for example, to one group and let the testing that has to do to determine if an individual is infected, to be able to cut that down. He explained that, but as I said, he's much more capable of giving us the precise numbers.

But it is an issue if you can't get it within a 24- to 48-hour period. (inaudible).

MALONEY: Thank you. I yield back.

CLYBURN: Thank you, Gentlelady, for yielding back. The chair now recognizes Mr. Luetkemeyer for five minutes.

REP. BLAINE LUETKEMEYER (R-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

One of the words I use to try and discuss this issue, the COVID problem, with people is always perspective. Try and keep in perspective the disease, the solutions, the other things that are out there, and this is why I asked a question a while ago with regards to attention on COVID and the seeming lack of that for a while on the rest of our healthcare needs.

Another situation that I think is -- is concerning as -- as we open up our schools, one of the things that's -- you know, we look at the -- the -- the damage and -- and -- and concern we have for the children's healthcare, but yet I did a little research on football injuries.

We're almost in the same neighborhood with the deaths, not taking in account the other severe and lifetime injuries that are sustained by young -- young men playing football in high school versus the total deaths that would be anticipated from open -- reopening our schools, and I don't see any outcry about that. So perspective, to me, is something we always need to consider.

One of the things that concerns me also is I wish that Admiral Giroir was here yet. I asked this question of him the last time he was here, and he -- we didn't have enough time to -- to continue -- to continue our discussion on it.

But with regards to the sort of perverse incentive for the medical folks to claim that somebody died of COVID versus if it was an automobile accident, for instance. As long as you have COVID in your system you get to claim it as a COVID death, and which means you get to get more money as the attending physician, hospital or whatever.

[11:55:00]

And he acknowledged that the -- that the statistics he's getting from the states are over -- overinflated. We found that the governor of Colorado, who is -- who is a Democrat, actually did research on this and found he had to get rid of 12 percent of the deaths that were recorded in his state.

Dr. Redfield, would you like to comment on that a little bit, about the -- the perverse incentive, and is there an effort to try and do something different in a way that these deaths are recorded so we actually have better records and better -- better numbers, better data to go with?

REDFIELD: Thank you, Congressman. I think you're correct in that we've seen this in other disease processes too, early in the HIV epidemic. Somebody may have a heart attack, but also have HIV. The hospital would prefer the DRG for HIV because there's greater reimbursement. So I do think there's some reality to that.

When it comes to death reporting, though, I mean, ultimately it's how the physician defines it in the death certificate. In our -- our national health statistics group here in Hyattsville, we review all those death certificates.

So I think it's probably less operable in the cause of death, although I -- I won't say it's -- there are not some cases. I do think though when it comes to hospital reimbursement issues for individuals they get discharged, there could be some play in that for sure.

LUETKEMEYER: Well, the admiral certainly acknowledged that the last time he was here, so I think that's very concerning.

Dr. Fauci, one of the things -- you made a comment a while ago with regards to hydroxychloroquine, and I have an article here that quotes the Henry Ford Health System who did an extensive study on hydroxychloroquine and they say that it significantly reduces the death rate of COVID patients.

The study was highly analyzed by -- and peer reviewed, unlike many other studies and the -- quoting the executive officer said doctors and scientists who look at the data for insight, and the data here is clear there was a benefit to using the drug as a treatment for sick and hospitalized patients.

And in talking with a lot of older doctors who have been around a while and I trust their judgment and their use of hydroxychloroquine, they say that the initial studies didn't really use zinc with it, and they say that zinc is an enabler to be able to help hydroxychloroquine actually do its job of going after and reducing deaths in patients.

I had long conversation with a doctor earlier in the week (ph) and he said yes, as long as zinc is there it really, definitely does work -- without it it's minimally effective. Would you like to comment on that?

FAUCI: Thank you for the opportunity to comment. The Henry Ford Hospital study that was published was a non-controlled, retrospective cohort study that was confounded by a number of issues, including the fact that many of the people receiving hydroxychloroquine were also receiving corticosteroids which we know from another study gives a clear benefit in reducing deaths with advanced disease.

So that study is a flawed study, and I think anyone who examines it carefully is that it is a not a randomized placebo controlled trial.

LUETKEMEYER: It said it was peer reviewed (ph) --

FAUCI: The statement -- it doesn't matter, you can peer review something that's a bad study. But the fact is, it is not a randomized, placebo controlled trial. The point that I think is important, because we all want to keep an open mind. Any and all of the randomized placebo controlled trials which is the gold standard of determining something is effective -- none of them had shown any efficacy of hydroxychloroquine.

Having said that, I will state when I do see a randomized placebo controlled trial that looks of any aspect of hydroxychloroquine either early study, middle study or late -- if that randomized placebo control trial shows efficacy I would be the first one to admit it and to promote it.

But I have not seen yet a randomized placebo control trial that's done that. And in fact, every randomized placebo controlled trial that has looked at it has shown no efficacy. So I just have to go with the data, I don't have any horse in the game one way or the other, I just look at the data.

LUETKEMEYER: Thank you very much, I yield back.

CLYBURN: The gentleman's time has expired.

The Chair now recognizes for five minutes, Ms. Velazquez.

You want to yield to Kim?

Mr. Kim is now recognized for five minutes.

REP. ANDY KIM (D-NJ): Thank you. I just wanted to start here picking up where I left off. I started my last question line asking each of you if our federal government was doing everything possible to be able to respond? And each of you said within the capabilities of our government that we were.

The reason why I wanted to address this is when we talk about a national testing strategy or greater coordination on personal protective equipment what I've heard over and over again is that it's about where the responsibility is.