Fauci resists Republican effort to turn testimony against protesters

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Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday resisted efforts by a staunch ally of President Donald Trump to turn his testimony about controlling the coronavirus pandemic into criticism of protests against racial injustice.

Fauci clashed with Representative Jim Jordan at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Coronavirus, after the Ohio Republican demanded Fauci’s opinion about whether protests should be curbed or eliminated to control the pandemic.

“Should we limit the protesting?” Jordan asked. When Fauci said he was not in a position to make such a recommendation, the lawmaker retorted: “You make all kinds of recommendations. You make comments on dating, on baseball and everything you could imagine.”

“I’m not favoring anybody over anybody,” Fauci replied. “I’m not going to opine on limiting anything … I’m telling you what is the danger, and you can make your own conclusion about that. You should stay away from crowds, no matter where the crowds are.”

Fauci’s testimony comes at the end of a month in which U.S. coronavirus deaths rose by almost 25,000 and cases doubled in at least 18 states, according to a Reuters tally, dealing a crushing blow to hopes of quickly reopening the economy.

The United States has recorded nearly 1.8 million new COVID-19 cases in July out of its total 4.5 million known infections, an increase of 66% with many states yet to report on Friday. Deaths in July rose at least 19% to a total of more than 152,000.

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