Dr. Anthony Fauci is still planning to testify to a Senate committee on Tuesday — but he’ll do it remotely from the isolation of quarantine.
In a change of plans, the virus expert will appear via video before Congress after having been exposed to the coronavirus at the White House, New York Daily News reported.
Fauci to testify via video
Dr. Fauci is entering a “modified quarantine” after coming into contact with Katie Miller, Mike Pence’s press secretary and the wife of White House adviser Stephen Miller. A personal valet of President Trump’s also tested positive for the virus, according to the Washington Post.
The news has driven speculation about whether the White House has been compromised — with many on the left pointing to the exposure as an ironic failure of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response. Trump has been eager to pivot toward opening up the country, and liberals have laid the blame for the pandemic almost entirely at the president’s feet.
Dr. Fauci’s health status is being checked daily, and he has tested negative for the virus thus far. The doctor had planned to testify before the Senate in person, but he will now testify before a Republican-led Senate committee from the safety of isolation.
He will appear along with Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who have both gone into self-isolation as well. The assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Brett Giroir, will also appear over video, according to the New York Post.
“After consulting with Dr. Fauci, and in an abundance of caution for our witnesses, senators, and the staff, all four Administration witnesses will appear by videoconference due to these unusual circumstances,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that will hold the hearing, according to CBS News.
Controversy still swirls
The last time Fauci appeared before Congress was in March. Since then, Fauci has won praise from Democrats who see him as a trusted “voice of reason” in stark contrast to Trump.
Democrats were outraged when the White House blocked Fauci from testifying before the House last week, as Trump slammed the chamber as a bunch of “Trump haters” looking to use Fauci against him, The Hill reported. The president’s opponents called the move another example of Trump overruling experts in order to protect himself.
The left has consistently accused Trump of jeopardizing lives by seeking to open the country too quickly, over the objections of state governors and public health experts such as Fauci, who insist on moving at a more cautious pace. As Trump focuses on restarting the economy, the fate of the coronavirus task force has also been unclear in recent days.
Both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx have been less visible in recent days, as Trump’s daily press briefings have grown more infrequent, driving speculation that Dr. Fauci’s role — and that of other experts — is diminishing.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fauci has said that he will continue working from home for the next couple of weeks, although he may occasionally drop in at his day job at the National Institutes of Health, according to reports.