I tuned into the Tuesday Senate committee hearing mostly to hear Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most plain-spoken member of America’s medical team. Several of his comments were newsworthy, but the show was stolen by Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.
He posted a graphic (above) that stunned me: In a brief timeline, the results of reactions by the U.S. and South Korea were contrasted, showing America mired in the mud.
On Jan. 21, each nation posted its first confirmed case of infection. The U.S. unemployment rate was 3.6% for the U.S., 4% for South Korea, which quickly broke out widespread testing and tracing.
About six weeks later, the U.S. registered 9 deaths, South Korea had 28. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.4%, versus 3.8% for South Korea.
The radical change was obvious two months later. South Korea lost 256 people, while the U.S. lost an astonishing 81,285. South Korea’s unemployment rate had barely budged, at 4%, while ours had shot through the roof to hit 14.7%.
These statistics are damning, and the fact that the U.S. now is testing more than South Korea hardly matters. South Korea did it early, when it mattered, and needs to do less now.
Having made a point, Kaine had to push it. He tried to get Fauci to say the death level was “unacceptable,” which then would have been used against President Donald J. Trump. (Fun fact: Kaine was Hillary Clinton’s VP candidate. Remember?)
Fauci didn’t take the bait and he, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and HHS Assistant Secretary Admiral Brett Giroir all said their relationship with the president was “not confrontational.”
I believe that. I know people who wish the relationship was more confrontational, especially when the president says things that are not true, crazy, or both. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Before I get to Fauci’s newsworthy comments, got to share a few observations. The best quote came from Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts: “Consumers are figuring out food doesn’t come from the grocery store.” It doesn’t — it comes from states like his.
Democratic Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I believe he still is a Democrat, for now) wanted to know — guess what? — if virus vaccinations would be free. None of the four had the authority to order that, but the admiral said he hoped so. Me too.
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Liz Warren noted the 80,000 death toll and asked if the disease had been “contained.”
Fauci noted a “diminution in some places” but “spikes elsewhere,” but we are “going in the right direction.” Reporters scrutinize his remarks for daylight between him and the president.
Fauci was in his customary, button-down blue shirt, but without his wire frame glasses. Noteworthy comments:
+ The number of deaths is “almost certainly” higher than 80,000
+ Trial vaccines will go into production before they are tested
+ Some of these vaccines “could make things worse”
+ In reopened areas “there is real risk you will trigger an outbreak you will not be able to control”
+ If proper precautions are not instituted, a second wave is “inevitable.”
Something to brighten up your autumn.