For The Record

Loeffler slams China, ‘mainstream media’ at COVID-19 hearing

By: and - May 13, 2020 7:32 am

Kelly Loeffler slammed the media and China during a Senate hearing Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Tuesday bashed Chinese officials and the “mainstream media” at a hearing about the reopening of U.S. schools and workplaces. 

Loeffler said she was “incredibly concerned about the coverup and the misinformation coming from China and their efforts to suppress life-saving information at the outset of this outbreak.” 

Amid mounting criticism of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump and his allies have increasingly sought to place blame on Chinese officials for failing to properly contain the novel coronavirus. 

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Loeffler that at a scientific level, the CDC has had “very good interactions” with its counterparts in China. “That’s different than the broader Chinese government level,” Redfield added. 

Loeffler went on to criticize “the mainstream media” and some of her colleagues in the Senate who “seem to want to paint” the health officials’ relationships with Trump “during this wartime effort as confrontational and lacking consensus.” 

Each of the officials insisted that their relationships with the president were not confrontational. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that Trump hears his advice and respects it. “In no way in my experience over the last several months has there been any confrontational relationship between us,” Fauci told Loeffler. 

Trump last month retweeted a call for Fauci to be fired after he said in a CNN interview that more could have been done to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The White House later said that Trump was not considering firing Fauci. 

Fauci warns against reopening too soon

Fauci warned Loeffler and other lawmakers there could be a surge of COVID-19 cases if states, cities and regions disregard the government’s “checkpoints” on when and how to pull back from mitigation measures.

“If that occurs, there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you might not be able to control, which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery,” he said. 

“We would almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward.”

Overall, Fauci said that some parts of the country are seeing spikes in infection, while the curve looks flat or is trending downward in other areas.

“I think we are going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have, by any means, total control of this outbreak,” Fauci said. 

His remarks were markedly more guarded than the more optimistic portrait Trump outlined in remarks at a White House briefing Monday. 

Trump said the number of coronavirus cases were going down “almost everywhere,” even though many states show a steady number of new cases. An internal report obtained by NBC shows cases spiking in some communities.

“We have met the moment and we have prevailed,” Trump told reporters at the White House briefing Monday, with tables displaying testing and treatment materials on either side of his podium. “Americans do whatever it takes to find solutions, pioneer breakthroughs, and harness the energies we need to achieve total victory.”

Fauci gave a guarded but optimistic update on the ultimate development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The process is moving faster than on any other vaccine in history, and there are at least eight vaccines in various stages of development. Researchers may know if they are successful as early as late fall or early winter. 

“We have many candidates and hope to have multiple winners,” he said. 

Fauci predicted it is “more likely than not” that one or more of them will work well enough to provide herd immunity from the virus, while admitting there are still significant research hurdles to overcome in ensuring the vaccines are safe for wide distribution. 

Fauci admitted “there is no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective,” but said he is “cautiously optimistic.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Allison Winter
Allison Winter

Allison Winter is a Washington D.C. correspondent for States Newsroom, a network of state-based nonprofit news outlets that includes the Georgia Recorder.

Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender is the D.C. Bureau Chief for States Newsroom, a network of nonprofit news publications, including the Georgia Recorder. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.