Fauci, Redfield testify on Covid-19 reopening as cases rise

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 4:21 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020
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1:29 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

Fauci says we're not sure how long immunity from coronavirus will last

Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Asked about how possible herd immunity could help the US move past the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci noted there's still "a lot we don’t know" about immunity — including how long it lasts.

"What we don’t know is what the durability is," he said at an ongoing Senate hearing. “So if you wind up getting herd immunity to 75, 80%, what we need to learn, and only time will teach us this, is how long does immunity last? Is it a year? Two, three, four? Or is it less?”

Fauci said the immunity durability — or how long it protects a person — could affect how often a possible coronavirus vaccine needs updating.

Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also noted that as of now, only about 5% to 8% of the American public has “experienced this virus," underscoring the need for a vaccine.

12:54 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

Pool testing at schools may be helpful for reopening, Fauci says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Pool testing for coronavirus could be a helpful tool as schools look to reopen in the fall, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. This type of testing takes several tests and puts them together into one test.

Fauci said this helps “get a feel for the penetrance of infection in a community, rather than testing multiple each individual person, which takes resources and time.”   

“If that test is negative, then you know those 10 people are all negative. So instead of utilizing 10 tests, you’ve utilize one test,” he explained. “And if you then find one is positive, then you go backtrack and figure out who that person is."

“If you do the mathematical calculation, you can save a lot of time, a lot of resources, and use the testing for a variety of other things that you would need,” Fauci added.

“It can be used in any of a number of circumstances, at the community level, or even in schools if you wanted to do that.”


1:56 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

Infections and death toll will be "very disturbing" if current trends persist, Fauci says

Asked how many Covid-19 deaths and infections the US could expect before the pandemic is over, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he couldn't make an "accurate prediction" but it is going to be "very disturbing."

"I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country even though in other parts of the country they are doing well, they are vulnerable," Fauci said. "We can't just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk."

Fauci said that the country is seeing more than 40,000 new cases a day, and that he would "not be surprised" if the case count goes up to 100,000 a day if the current trend in cases "does not turn around."

Fauci stressed that he could not make an estimation on deaths as those would need to be modeled.

"I think it is important to tell and you the American public that I'm very concerned because it could get very bad," Fauci said.


12:47 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

Fauci: The US is "going in the wrong direction"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt and Amanda Watts

Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Pool/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the US is “going in the wrong direction” as the number of coronavirus cases increase in the country.

Fauci said that while some states have gotten ahold of the virus, he’s very concerned about others where it has spiked. 

“Clearly, we are not in total control right now,” he told Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

Fauci said on the news he sees people congregating in crowds, not wearing masks and states jumping over guidelines on reopening. 

“We're going to continue to be in a lot of trouble, and there's going to be a lot of hurt if that does not stop,” he said. 

“I'm very concerned about what's going on right now, particularly in the four states that are accounting for about 50% of the new infections,” Fauci added. Those states are Florida, Texas, California and Arizona.

“I'm not satisfied with what's going on, because we're going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said.

At least 36 states are currently seeing an increase in cases compared to the previous week, according to data from John Hopkins University. At least 11 of those states are seeing a 50% or more increase in cases.


12:41 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

There's "substantial disappointment" with American Airlines' decision to fully book flights, CDC head says

From CNN's  Amanda Watts, Chris Isidore and Pete Muntean

Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Pool/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Pool/Getty Images

Asked by Sen. Bernie Sanders about American Airlines' decision to resume booking flights at capacity and not keep middle seats open, Dr. Robert Redfield, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that there was "substantial disappointment" with the airline when the announcement was released.

"This is under critical review by us at the CDC. We don't think it's the right message," Redfield said. "Again, we think it's really important in individuals that are — whether it's a bus or a train or a plane — are social distancing to a degree that's feasible, and at least, have a reliable face covering," Redfield added.

In a response from the airline industry, Airlines For America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio told CNN that airlines have a “multi-layered approach” for health and safety of passengers and employees. “

You can’t employ social distancing on an airplane like you can in a grocery store, but frankly I’d rather be on an airplane right now,” Calio said. He foreshadowed that other airlines will change policies when they feel it’s right.

Some background: US airlines had stopped selling middle seats for months, both to ensure social distancing and because of a lack of passengers.

Despite rising Covid-19 cases in at least 36 US states, American Airlines, the world's largest carrier, disclosed Friday that "customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1." United Airlines had been willing to sell every possible seat throughout the pandemic.

Both airlines said they would notify passengers when a flight has more than 70% of its seats booked, and allow them to change to a less crowded flight. But that won't necessarily allow passengers with limited flexibility to avoid crowded flights.

On Sunday there were 634,000 people passing through TSA checkpoints at US airports, which was 24% of the traffic on the same day last summer. That's the highest total since late March and is seven times as many people as were screened the low point in mid-April.


12:09 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

Fauci says newly identified swine flu is "something we need to keep our eye out on"

From CNN's Jamie Gumbrecht

Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Pool/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/AFP/Pool/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the newly identified swine flu, called G4, is “something we need to keep an eye out on.” 

Speaking to the Senate HELP Committee hearing, Fauci said “the Chinese, over the last week or two have identified a virus — in the environment — it has not yet shown to be infecting humans, but it is exhibiting what we call reassortment capability.”

Fauci explained that when several different strains of a virus simultaneously infect the same host, such as a pig, they can exchange genetic information.  

“When they all mix up together, and they contain some of the elements that might make them susceptible to being transmitted to humans, you always have the possibility that you might have another swine flu type outbreak as we had in 2009,” Fauci said.

Fauci said G4 is still in the examination stage — “It’s not so-called, an immediate threat.”  

 “But it's something we need to keep our eye out on just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu,” he said. 

The G4 virus, which is genetically descended from the H1N1 swine flu that caused the 2009 pandemic, was described in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday.

Earlier today: The World Health Organization confirmed in an email to CNN on Tuesday that agency officials are carefully reading the new data that has emerged on the swine flu virus.

"Eurasian avian-like swine influenza virus are known to be circulating in the swine population in Asia and to be able to infect humans sporadically. Twice a year during the influenza vaccine composition meetings, all information on the viruses is reviewed and the need for new candidate vaccine viruses is discussed. We will carefully read the paper to understand what is new," WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said in the email.

12:42 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

CDC heads says Arizona's daily death rate is increasing. Here's a look at the latest figures.

Dr. Robert Redfield, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledged that the country is seeing "significant increases" in the southeast and southwest regions. He noted that the number of jurisdictions and upward trajectory has "continued to increase."

"The evidence tells us that these cases are driven by many factors to include increased testing, community transmission and outbreaks in the settings such as nursing homes and occupational settings," Redfield said.

Redfield said hospitalizations are going up in 12 states, and as of this weekend, the daily death toll has increased in the state of Arizona. 

According to CNN reporting, the state’s average number of deaths per day has about doubled over the course of June – from just under 20 to just under 40. 

Here is a look at the progression of new confirmed deaths in the state:

12:05 p.m. ET, June 30, 2020

FDA commissioner says he is "optimistic" about availability of coronavirus treatments by fall

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn says he is optimistic about having more than one coronavirus treatments available for adults and older Americans by the fall so there is more confidence in going back to school for not just students but also staff.

He detailed the progress on treatments:

Remdesivir has been authorized based on studies that show it is effective in reducing hospitalization days for Covid-19 patients.

About 20,000 patients have been administered with convalescent plasma as the FDA evaluated its safety and found it to be safe.

The safety data and antibody information that comes out of this plasma study will be passed on to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Dr. Hahn said.

“That antibody data will help us in terms of the development of monoclonal antibodies, he explained. “We're hopeful that those studies by the late summer, early fall, will provide us information about their effectiveness and safety.”
11:18 a.m. ET, June 30, 2020

Fauci "concerned" by rising cases, says states "need to follow" reopening guidelines

Dr. Anthony Fauci said he is "quite concerned" by the increase in cases in states such as Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, and offered his advice on what states can do to reverse these trends.

"We've got to make sure that when states try and open again, they need to follow the guidelines that have been very carefully laid out with regard to checkpoints. What we've seen in several states are different iterations of that, perhaps maybe in some going too quickly and skipping over some of the checkpoints," Fauci said.

Fauci noted that even in states where the leadership opened with the right recommendations, the country saw "clips and photographs of individuals" not wearing masks, not avoiding crowds and not following social distancing guidelines.

"I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic that we all have to play a part in," Fauci said.

He added that when you look "at the visuals, what we saw were a lot of people who maybe felt that because they think that they are invulnerable and we know many young people are not, they are getting serious disease, that, therefore, they are getting infected has nothing to do with anyone else and in fact it does."