Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has become the public face of the president's coronavirus response, is scheduled to testify before the U.S. Senate today. Dr. Fauci apparently emailed the New York Times the Cliff's Notes version of his anticipated remarks, which is not a great way to build trust in middle America, but I digress.
According to the Times, Fauci's email said, "The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely. If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: 'Open America Again,' then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal."
This, of course, has been Fauci's mantra all along. The longer the country remains shut down, the better, according to the Book of Fauci.
The New York Times makes a lot of hay in its writeup of Fauci's email about the fact that Tuesday's appearance before Congress will be his first in a very long time without President Trump by his side.
However, Tuesday's appearance is different for another reason: It will be the first time in a long time that Fauci faces questions from people other than the national press corps, which is all too eager to carry the "remain shut down forever" water.
So today would be a great opportunity for some brave senator to ask Fauci the following question: "Let's say the country remains totally shut down for an extra three months. Or heck, let's be totally safe and say through Christmas. Would THAT cause any suffering and death?"
Look, it's pretty clear that infectious diseases like coronavirus cause death. Obviously, that is a result that we want to avoid. I am legitimately curious as to whether Dr. Fauci is aware that other things cause death, too. I am curious as to whether Fauci has even considered the possibility that reopening America is not about jumpstarting the economy, it's about keeping people alive.
Dr. Fauci is an expert on infectious diseases and we are told that we should not question his expertise, which is fair.
I am curious whether Dr. Fauci is interested in questioning the expertise of other experts, such as the director of the U.N. World Food Program, who has already said that the economic effects of global shutdowns are likely to kill more people than the virus itself, and that the shutdowns are going to push hundreds of millions of people to the brink of starvation.
I am curious whether Dr. Fauci is interested in questioning the expertise of mental health experts, who are estimating that at least 75,000 people may die "deaths of despair" such as suicide due to the economic ruination caused by the shutdowns.
I am curious as to whether Dr. Fauci has even considered the certainty that malnutrition/poor nutrition caused by lockdown-induced increased poverty will kill people.
The entire tenor of Dr. Fauci's comments thus far has treated the extension of shutdown as something that is basically "free," in terms of human lives lost. In other words, all we need to be concerned about is people dying from the coronavirus, and everything we do to reach that goal will only cost money, not lives.
I want to know if he really thinks that way. If he's ever even considered the possibility that extending shutdowns will also cost lives.
If he is aware of it and says that he's not blind to the fact that extending the shutdown will cost lives, then I have additional questions.
I want to know if his office has modeled the number of deaths that will be caused by extending the shutdowns by a certain number of days. If not, why not?
After all, a ton of money has been spent modeling how many people will get, and die from, the coronavirus based on whether social distancing is continued or not. If Fauci is aware that the shutdowns will also cost lives, wouldn't it be relevant to try to model that or quantify it in some way? Is that not an important enough question for anyone to attempt to study? Do the lives lost due to economic ruin not matter as much, or at all, or should we at least consider them in some sort of balancing equation? I certainly hope it's the latter.
And if we are trying to balance lives lost due to the coronavirus versus lives lost due to shutdowns, why is literally all the energy being spent to determine how many lives will be lost due to the coronavirus and zero being spent determining how many lives will be lost due to shutdowns?
I hope someone will ask these questions. I hope at least one of the 100 elected senators in today's chamber thinks that the lives lost due to shutdowns matter just as much as lives lost due to COVID-19, and acts accordingly. Otherwise, I suppose we will just go on pretending that they don't even exist and remain shut down indefinitely.