Scenes From a Bizarre Senate Hearing on Coronavirus

Dr. Anthony Fauci shows off his office during Tuesday’s Senate Health Committee hearing. Photo: C-SPAN/Youtube

Dr. Anthony Fauci and CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield testified in a highly anticipated hearing of the Senate Health Committee Tuesday, telling the panel of lawmakers that the threat of the coronavirus outbreak is not over and states should not move to open up too quickly.

“It’s important to emphasize that we’re not out of the woods yet,” Redfield said. “We need to stay vigilant with social distancing. It remains an imperative.” Facuci, meanwhile, said the “consequences could be really serious” if states rush to reopen before meeting the White House’s guidelines.

The dire warnings from the nation’s top health officials made headlines, but the hearing also drew attention for its bizarre images of senators in masks and appearing at the hearing remotely. Roughly half of the lawmakers on the committee participated in the hearing in-person, with other conferencing in from home or their offices.

Committee chairman Lamar Alexander participated from Tennessee, where he is on a 14-day self-quarantine after a staffer tested positive for the coronavirus.

Many of the senators present at the hearing were not wearing masks.

But some were.

One senator, Maine’s Susan Collins, did both.

Other senators gave us a look at their homes, offices, or in the case of Bernie Sanders, the lobby of an alt-rock radio station.

Mitt Romney, or “mitt” as the video-conferencing software calls him, showed off pictures of his huge family.

Mike Enzi showed off his fish portraits.

Like their colleagues in the Supreme Court, some senators working from home are still getting familiar with Zoom’s mute button.

The prime suspect? Lamar Alexander’s dog Rufus.

Rand Paul, the only member of the Senate to test positive for COVID-19, was one of the committee members in attendance. During his time to question the witnesses, he criticized the nationwide response to the virus, noting that “outside of New England, we have had a relatively benign course for this virus.” He also argued that experts need to have some “humility” about what they don’t know before asserting with confidence that the virus is a threat to children.

Fauci took issue with that point.  “We don’t know everything about this virus, and we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children,” he said. “I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”

Scenes From a Bizarre Senate Hearing on Coronavirus