A congressional hearing on the coronavirus pandemic has turned personal when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) loudly attacked Anthony Fauci, Democratic President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, over whether to continue the pandemic restrictions.
This happened on Thursday at the House Oversight coronavirus subcommittee hearing amid an ongoing contention between Republicans and Democrats over the continuation of mask wearing and physical distancing.
During multiple rounds of questioning at the hearing, Jordan pressed Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on when Americans can expect to go back to normal.
“When do Americans get their freedom back?” Jordan asked. "We had 15 days to slow the spread, turned into a year of lost liberties."
As Fauci was explaining that the best course of action is to slowly lift restrictions “when we get the level of infection in this country low enough,” Jordan interrupted, and pressed him to "give me a number."
“You’re indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to hospital,” Fauci said.
Jordan also claimed Americans' First Amendment rights have been "trampled" during the past year due to public health restrictions like mask orders, curfews as well as capacity limits on businesses.
"We’re not talking about liberties, we’re talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans,” Fauci said.
He said the level of infections is too high in the US right now to relax all restrictions. “This will end for sure when we get the level of infection very low,” Fauci said, adding that the current strategy is to “get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can”.
After Jordan’s time had already expired, he continued to shout at Fauci, asking when the country can lift all coronavirus restrictions, when congresswoman Maxine Waters jumped into the fray, telling Jordan, “You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth.”
Democrats have blasted the Trump administration over the handling of the pandemic. The former president had repeatedly disagreed with Fauci on COVID-19, including social-distancing guidelines and masks wearing, calling the doctor as “a little bit of an alarmist.”
Biden, during his campaign, lashed out at the Trump administration for the pace of distributing COVID-19 vaccines and vowed to ramp up the current speed of vaccinations.
However, he acknowledged that it “will still take months to have the majority of Americans vaccinated.”