Top health experts testify that the U.S. is not ‘out of the woods’ and warn against reopening too fast.

Leaders of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response painted a grim picture on Tuesday of the months ahead, warning a Senate panel that the United States did not yet have control over the pandemic and lacked crucial capabilities to contain an inevitable surge in cases that could arise if the nation moved too quickly to reopen the economy.

The day after President Trump declared, “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed,” the experts warned of dire consequences if states did not proceed with caution in reopening.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “but we are more prepared.”

Dr. Redfield’s remark, during a high-profile — and partially virtual — hearing before the Senate’s health committee, along with comments from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, made clear that the country was still facing steep challenges in responding to the pandemic.

They warned that a vaccine would not be ready in time for the new school year and conceded that the country still lacked an adequate contact tracing infrastructure to monitor the spread of Covid-19. The officials told senators that outbreaks in other parts of the world would surely reach the United States, and they emphasized the importance of erring on the side of caution in dealing with an unpredictable and potentially lethal disease.

“If we do not respond in an adequate way when the fall comes, given that it is without a doubt that there will be infections that will be in the community, then we run the risk of having a resurgence,” Dr. Fauci said. “I would hope that by that time, in the fall, that we would have more than enough to respond adequately. But if we don’t, there will be problems.”

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