Dr. Anthony Fauci in a highly anticipated hearing on Tuesday warned the Senate health committee of "really serious" consequences if states ignore federal guidelines and reopen too early during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fauci said the danger of new spikes of coronavirus cases from reopenings is both real and dangerous.
“My concern is that if some areas, city, states, or what have you, jump over those various checkpoints, and prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently, my concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said during virtual testimony from his home in Washington.
“The consequences could be really serious,” said Fauci, who is self-isolating after being in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case at the White House.
He added that this is also the case in states that are moving at an “appropriate pace” in reopening as well.
“Even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases appear. It's the ability and the capability of responding to those cases with good identification isolation and contact tracing will determine whether you can continue to go forward, as you try to reopen America.”
Fauci's comments at the hearing, which was carried live by cable television networks, comes as the White House has pressed state to reopen their economies.
President Trump has also criticized some states for not doing more to reopen.
"The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails," Trump tweeted on Monday. "The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them."
"Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!" he concluded.
The debate over reopening comes months before a presidential election expected to hinge on the administration's response to the pandemic, and the economic crisis it has caused.
Unemployment jumped to 14.7 percent in a report last week and is expected to grow higher, raising pressure on the administration and Trump.