Susan Walsh/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images From left: Reps. Maxine Waters and Jim Jordan
"You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth," Waters, 82, told Jordan, 57, after he kept talking over House Coronavirus Crisis Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Clyburn, who had recognized another lawmaker in order to move on.
Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, was prolonging an already lengthy complaint to Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the country's leading medical voice throughout the pandemic.
The Ohio lawmaker was pushing Fauci, 80, on when the country could move past health precautions meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"Your right to go to church, your right to assemble, your right to petition your government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech [has] all been assaulted," Jordan told the doctor about the past year of social distancing guidelines, which have primarily recommended people should avoid gathering in large groups indoors.
Conservatives have grown increasingly critical of Fauci, in particular his messaging style, and of his advised precautions around the virus as health officials note that daily infection rates remain high in parts of the country.
"You're making this a personal thing, and it isn't," Fauci told Jordan.
The lawmaker said his perspective was "not a personal thing."
"That is exactly what you're doing," Fauci fired back, as their exchange grew more tense.
"My recommendations are not a personal recommendation, it's based on the CDC guidance," Fauci added.
Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images Rep. Jim Jordan
Although COVID-19 vaccines have rolled out across the U.S. in recent months — with The Washington Post reporting Friday that roughly 125.8 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose — the country's rates of infection are still too high to stop social distancing and other guidelines, Fauci told Jordan.
He said the country has about 60,000 infections per day, "which is a very large risk for a surge."
"We're not talking about liberties, we're talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans," Fauci said. "That's what we're talking about."
He said that rate is "unacceptably high — regardless of who you are."
"What you're going to see, as more and more people get vaccinated and we get over 3 million people a day [vaccinated] ... gradually there will be more flexibility for doing the things that you're talking about," Fauci said.
There's been an average of more than 70,000 new coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. over the past week, according to the latest data from The New York Times tracker.
Shutterstock Dr. Anthony Fauci
At least 564,838 people have died in the U.S. while more than 31.5 million people have contracted the virus.
Waters' sister, Velma Moody, died from COVID-19 last May, the Democratic representative previously revealed during an interview with The Grio.
"It is one of the most painful things that I've ever had to experience in my life," she said then.
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