U.S. Sen. Rand Paul attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday over the United States' coronavirus response in round two of a confrontation between the junior senator from Kentucky and the nation's foremost COVID-19 public health expert.
During a Senate committee hearing in Washington, D.C., Paul told Fauci it is a "fatal conceit that central planners have enough knowledge to tell a nation of 33 million people what they can and can't do."
Paul, a Republican and frequent supporter of President Donald Trump, also criticized Fauci for a lack of "certitude" when it comes to advice on whether children should be allowed to go back to school in the fall amid the pandemic.
"Guess what — it's rare for kids to transmit this," Paul said, pointing to examples from Belgium, Germany and France, among other countries. "But I hear nothing of that coming from you. All I hear, Dr. Fauci, is 'we can't do this, we can't do that, we can't play baseball.' Well, even that's not based on the science.
"We need to not be so presumptuous that we know everything," Paul continued. "But my question to you is: Can't you give us a little bit more on schools so that we can get back to school?"
Fauci smiled and chuckled before he responded. "I feel very strongly we need to do whatever we can to get the children back to school — so I think we're in lock agreement on that."
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Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House task force on COVID-19, went on to say that when he weighs in on certain topics — like if Major League Baseball should play into the fall — it is because he is approached on questions about the coronavirus.
"I agree with you: I am completely unqualified to tell you whether you can play a sport or not," Fauci said. "The only thing that I can do is, to the best of my ability, give you the facts and the evidence associated with what I know about this outbreak."
Paul responded by saying, "We just need more optimism — there is good news out there."
Paul, who recovered from the coronavirus in April and incited controversy last month by not wearing a face mask in public, had confronted Fauci during a hearing once before. Back in May, he told the public health expert "you're not the end-all" when it comes to giving advice.
"I am very careful, and hopefully humble, in knowing that I don't know everything about this disease," Fauci responded then. "And that's why I'm very reserved in making broad predictions."
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