Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a U.S. Senate panel that states should follow health experts' recommendations to wait for signs including a declining number of new infections before reopening.
President Donald Trump has been encouraging states to end a weeks-long shuttering of major components of their economies.
But senators heard a sobering assessment from Fauci, when asked by Democrats about a premature opening of the economy.
"There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control and, in fact paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery," Fauci said.
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