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Trump officials: ‘Personal responsibility’ crucial to defeating coronavirus

Trump administration officials said Friday the country is not “defenseless” against the coronavirus, but it will take greater cooperation from the public to beat back the pandemic.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the nation has developed safeguards and new therapies to save lives, but the public needs to wear masks, maintain physical distancing and wash their hands to keep the virus at bay.

“I am appealing to all Americans to be part of the public health solution. Together, we can turn the tide of this pandemic,” Dr. Redfield told the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the coronavirus-testing czar, said testing capacity is improving every day, but it does not replace personal responsibility, amid widespread fears that some people aren’t following public-health guidance.

“A negative test does not mean you won’t be positive tomorrow,” he told the subcommittee.

Chairman James Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said he called the hearing because he’s worried that a lack of centralized planning at the federal level led to a fragmented, flimsy response in the states. He said the U.S. is in the middle of a public health “catastrophe” in which some hospitals have been forced to consider which patients get care and which are “sent home to die.”

Mr. Clyburn displayed a chart showing a greater magnitude of transmission in the U.S. than the European Union, saying the disparity is noticeable even though places around the world employed lockdowns.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a National Institutes of Health scientist on the president’s task force, tied it the springtime decision to shut down partially and reopen too quickly in some states.

“When [European nations] shut down or locked down or went to shelter in place … they really did it to the tune of 95%-plus,” Dr. Fauci said. “Even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty, we only functionally shut down 50%.”

While the U.S. plateaued at about 20,000 cases per day, European nations came down to a lower baseline.

As the country reopened, it saw a surge in some states across the South and West.

The White House put out a list of benchmarks that should be met before governors moved forward, but some states didn’t tick off all the boxes.

“Some were followed very carefully, and some were not,” Dr. Fauci told Mr. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat. “That led to the surging that you’re showing on your chart there.”

Mr. Trump fumed over Mr. Clyburn’s comparison on Twitter, arguing the U.S. is uncovering more cases because of its testing regime.

“Somebody please tell Congressman Clyburn, who doesn’t have a clue, that the chart he put up indicating more CASES for the U.S. than Europe, is because we do MUCH MORE testing than any other country in the World. If we had no testing, or bad testing, we would show very few CASES,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Under GOP questioning, Dr. Fauci said he believes Mr. Trump’s decision to restrict travel from China at the start of February and from Europe in mid-March saved lives.

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Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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