Dr. Anthony Fauci angrily slapped down Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for repeatedly asking when COVID-19 restrictions would be lifted so Americans could “get back their liberty back.”
“We’re not talking about liberties. We’re talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans,” the top pandemic doctor said at a House hearing Thursday, his voice tinged with anger.
Jordan had complained that measures to limit the spread of coronavirus were stretching on for too long.
“You’re indicating liberty and freedoms,” Fauci told the Ohio congressman, ditching his usual professorial calm demeanor. “I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital.”
Fauci and Jordan sparred during an afternoon House subcommittee hearing on the pandemic that also included Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Both doctors applauded the U.S. vaccination effort so far, despite the temporarily halt in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over concerns about rare but potentially dangerous blood clots in the brain.
But Fauci and Walensky warned that the pandemic is far from over, and revealed to lawmakers that infections are spreading at an unacceptably fast rate.
Republicans spent most of the hearing attacking various restrictions that are still in effect in some states to keep a lid on the pandemic as more contagious variants spread across the country.
Jordan repeatedly demanded that Fauci offer a specific date when all restrictions would be lifted, or offer benchmarks that would allow officials to lift gathering restrictions and mask mandates.
“Are we going to be here two years from now wearing masks?” Jordan asked.
“You’re ranting again,” Fauci shot back.
GOP lawmakers also repeatedly tried to change the subject to the surge of undocumented immigrants at the southern border with Mexico.
“I’m not an expert on border policy,” Fauci dryly responded to a question from Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) about whether the northern border with Canada should be reopened.
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