Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a member of the White House’s coronavirus response task force.
“You are the nation’s leading voice on how and when society reopens from the pandemic-induced shutdown,” the letter begins. “And while Americans appreciate your service, your voice represents one of many important perspectives in the medical field.”
The missive, signed by Job Creators Network President and CEO Alfredo Ortiz, goes on to declare that just as patients would “routinely seek a second opinion regarding any serious medical procedure, we ask respectfully for a second opinion on this urgent issue before us.”
The Job Creators Network is a conservative advocacy group. While Fauci is one of the federal government’s most prominent faces amid the pandemic, President Trump has left it largely up to the states and their governors to decide how to move forward with reopening under federal guidelines that recommend a series of gradual steps.
But Fauci’s statements remain influential, and Republican Sen. Rand Paul clashed with him during a virtual Senate hearing last week.
“I think we oughtta have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy,” Paul said. “And as much as I respect you Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision.”
Fauci responded by denying that he is the “end all” or “only voice in this.”
“I don’t give advice about economic things,” Fauci said. “I don’t give advice about anything other than public health.”
But Ortiz took aim at more than just the coronavirus shutdown’s economic consequences, which have resulted in skyrocketing unemployment claims and the devastation of small businesses around the country.
The effects of the shutdown have also impacted parts of the health care industry for providers specializing in non-COVID care. Under early coronavirus guidelines, doctors and patients postponed or canceled millions of screenings and other appointments.
“While COVID-19 can be deadly, so can delaying needed health care procedures,” Ortiz wrote. “Delaying treatments for cancer or other chronic diseases can dramatically worsen treatment outcomes.”
Dr. Pat Basu, the president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, is also sounding the alarm about missed appointments and screenings -- both for cancer and other common, non-coronavirus illnesses.
“In cancer, the bedrock of therapy has been catch it early, treat it consistently and treat it completely,” he said.
But having appointments canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak has complicated the idea of catching it early, as well as treatment.
Basu recommends that anyone who had an appointment canceled or postponed contact their doctor for advice on how to move forward.
He told Fox News that patients should weigh the seriousness of their health concerns and advice from their doctors, combined with factors such as underlying health conditions that would make them a higher risk for contracting coronavirus and the extent of the outbreak in their local communities when deciding to seek in-person treatment.
He also warned of a “shadow curve” of non-coronavirus illnesses that may be going undiagnosed as millions of Americans skip their checkups and screenings.
The curve is a reference to the common phrase “flatten the curve,” which means reducing the rate of coronavirus infections to free up hospital resources for the worst cases -- a theme that Ortiz returned to in the full-page ad.
“Shutting down society was intended to flatten the curve and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Ortiz wrote. “It has achieved these goals at immense economic and social cost.”