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States that reopen their economies too early could "turn the clock back" on economic recovery and see "little spikes" of coronavirus cases that turn into outbreaks, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said in Senate testimony on Tuesday.
"There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak you may not be able to control, which, in fact, heterodoxically would set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided," Fauci said, "but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery. It would almost turn the clock back instead of going forward."
Fauci said he is concerned that cities or states may disregard federal guidelines about when it is safe to roll back mitigation efforts.
"My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks," he said.
Worries about keeping the economy in limbo are growing after U.S. employers cut 20.5 million jobs in April, a record-shattering number that pushed unemployment to 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression.
After South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott shared about his state starting to reopen after increasing contact tracing and vowing to test all nursing home residents and staff, Fauci called it a "model way."
"You have put things in place that I think would optimize your capability of reopening, and I was thinking as you were speaking I almost want to clone that and make sure other people see that," Fauci said.