WASHINGTON — The nation’s top infectious disease expert clashed with Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan Thursday over what it will take for the country to reopen more amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"My message, Congressman Jordan, is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can to get the level of infection in this country low, that it is no longer a threat," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "That is when and I believe when that happens, you will see."
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan kept pushing that the mitigation measures are infringing on the freedoms and liberties of the American people.
"I don't look at this as a liberty thing. Congressman Jordan," said Fauci. "I look at this as a public health thing."
The confrontation came during a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Thursday on Capitol Hill.
More than 122 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 23% are fully vaccinated.
Moderna and Pfizer are on track to have delivered 300 million doses each by mid- to late July.
Health officials recommended a pause for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, in part to make sure doctors know how to recognize and treat blood clots.
The CDC said Wednesday that four of the six women with the unusual clots were treated with a blood thinner named heparin - a treatment the government is warning doctors to avoid.
The setback for J&J comes as the worldwide death toll from COVID-19 approaches 3 million, including more than 560,000 who perished in the U.S., which continues to report tens of thousands of new infections every day and an average of almost 1,000 deaths.
"We would have liked to see it go all the way down to a very, very low level arbitrarily. We don't know what that number is, probably less than 10,000 per day," said Fauci.
"We're at a critical turning point. Every day we get better and better and being able to control it because every day three to four million people get vaccinated," he added.