Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the US does not yet have the critical testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the nation's economy, adding a dose of caution to increasingly optimistic projections from the White House. In an interview with the AP, Fauci said a May 1 target is "a bit overly optimistic" for many areas of the country. Any easing off the strict social-distancing rules in place in much of the country would have to occur on a "rolling" basis, not all at once, he said. Among Fauci's top concerns: that there will be new outbreaks in locations where social distancing has eased, but public health officials don't yet have the capabilities to rapidly test for the virus, isolate any new cases, and track down everyone that an infected person came into contact with.
At the same time Fauci is directing critical government research, he's also one of the administration’s leading spokespeople on the virus, spending hours each week by Trump’s side during his lengthy, daily White House briefings. Fauci said his public role is important but conceded that the duration of those briefings—Monday's ran for nearly two-and-a-half hours—was "really draining" and that doesn't even count preparation and waiting for it to start. "If I had been able to just make a few comments and then go to work, that would have really been much better," he said. "It isn't the idea of being there and answering questions, which I really think is important for the American public. It's the amount of time." (Read the full story to learn how Fauci spends his time outside of the White House briefing room.)