President Donald Trump in Phoenix on June 23 and Anthony Fauci in D.C. on April 29.
Saul Loeb, Mandel Ngan/AFP by means of Getty Images
By now, you probably understand who Dr. Anthony Fauci is. And you most likely know how you feel about him. Over half of Americans say they think Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is handling the coronavirus well. But President Donald Trump and a few of his closest advisers have actually begun murmuring about Fauci over the previous couple of days, highlighting the methods they think the physician has stumbled since this coronavirus began spreading. The White House has given reporters anti-Fauci talking points, and a leading advisor to the president challenged Fauci on the op-ed pages of USA Today. Fauci has actually not been afraid to speak up in his own defense. For Tuesdays episode of What Next, we called him to talk about the politics and science of this minute. Our conversation has actually been edited and condensed for clarity.
Yeah, I suggest, thats a whole bunch of nonsense that we require to simply put aside to concentrate on this extremely crucial task on which we require to interact. So when I hear and see those things, youve got to trust me, I attempt to pay as little attention to it as I potentially can.
Your role in the coronavirus action has actually moved over the course of the pandemic. Could you walk me through a day in your life right now?
Were speaking Monday. Ive actually been in my workplace dealing with my group in the advancement of vaccines and in treatments and diagnostics. This afternoon, quickly after we finish this discussion, I will hurry downtown to the White House, where I will hang out with the Coronavirus Task Force. Well be doing a governors call to assist the guvs as they work their way through this difficult scenario. Down at the White House, likely Ill get time to talk considerably with the vice president and then return and continue to do work here. So its a packed day.
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Anthony Fauci: Well, you understand, a lot of what youve become aware of an editorial that was composed, I believe, to the annoyance of many individuals in the White House–.
Mary Harris: The New York Times ran a whole story stating that the chatter in Washington is “Whats happening to Dr. Fauci?” Do you get asked that question directly? Do you desire to address it?
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Provided all the back-and-forth over the course of this previous week, do you fear for your job at all?
Were talking on Monday, July 20. How would you explain the state of public health in the United States right now?
You sound alarmed.
No, if I banged my head against the wall for everything I dislike or that troubled me, I wouldnt be speaking with you now. Im extremely, extremely explicit about the fact that I feel masks are truly important. When theyre outdoors in contact with people, and everyone needs to use a mask. Distance is probably as crucial as or more crucial than anything. I will take this opportunity to state we really should emphasize physical distancing and mask usage.
I wish to look back a little bit because a few months ago, you spoke with a press reporter for the New York Times about how your focus was on opening up properly. You resembled, We understand if we open up, were gon na see the cases increase, and so we need to be prepared for that. But I look at the wait times and the lines for testing in locations like Florida and Texas, and I just think, did those preparations take place?
No, no. It depends upon what you suggest by my “task.” I suggest, my task is as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. I have no fear at all about my job of being a member of the Coronavirus Task Force. I have been ensured by the president and by everybody in the White House that we are fine. I believe thats all chatter that you hear. I do not think theres any factor for anyone to wish to remove me from the Coronavirus Task Force. If they do, I would leave and go back to my day task, which is trying to develop a vaccine and treatments against COVID-19.
Its seemed like this public affairs wrestling match, with different folks speaking up. Notably, Mitch McConnell came out and said his faith in you is “total,” which is a huge thing. However then we saw these images of McConnell in the White House with the president, and no one is wearing a mask. I question, when you see images like that, if you just bang your head versus a wall.
I indicate, if you look at the numbers, they dont lie. Thats what were starting to see right now.
I said it is essential that we all begin moving toward resuming the nation, getting the economy back, getting employment back. And even when we do it properly, we have to get the cooperation of the people of the cities, of the states, and of the areas that were dealing with. I suggest, thats simply the dish to get into the kind of trouble weve gotten into.
” I have no fear at all about my task of belonging to the Coronavirus Task Force.”.
— Anthony Fauci.
Some states, the ones that are most severely affected, certainly have to put a pause on the reopening and maybe take a step or 2 back and take an appearance at the things we have to do. We must not despair, toss our hands up and state, oh, my goodness, this is out of control. We can get it under control.
Isnt it that the message theyre getting is also actually baffled and confusing, possibly?
No, really you make a great point. Whichs the factor the CDC has guidelines for that. Ive talked to many school district superintendents and principals about the kinds of creative things they can do, and they can be assisted by the CDC. Among the things is hybrid: You have part of the day for a class, the other part of the day not for the class. The alternative is physical separating in the class. I know its challenging logistically to do that in some cases, however to attempt to separate the desks, to get kids to use masks depending on their age, to have some of the kids be online and do virtual knowing and have others in the class. Above everything has to be the safety and the welfare of the children and the instructors.
One of the problems in this country that has actually been especially troublesome is if you look at our curve and compare it with the curve, lets state, of the European Union, in basic its cases went method up. If you look at us right now in the summer, our baseline never got down listed below 20,000 per day.
Provided all that, what should the fall appear like? Because parents are looking at four to six weeks until they would normally be sending their kids to schools, were talking so much about schools now.
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Its possible, yes. I think we cant reject that there are some elements of combined messages youre obtaining from various nationwide leaders and regional leaders. However weve got to overcome that. Weve got to attempt as best as possible.
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I hear what youre stating. Doing it that method introduces so much room for error since youre asking private school districts and principals and superintendents to make this public health call. Is that reasonable?
And then youve got to fashion it to what the local, on-the-ground scenario is. I think its crucial that to the best of our capability, within the world of security and with attention to the health and the well-being of the kids and the teachers, we should attempt as best as possible to attempt to get the kids back to school, and the schools open. When that happens, you may need to take a second look and state: Now, wait a minute, if we are going to open, were either going to be in such bad shape that we cant open, or if we are going to open, weve got to artistically figure out a method to alleviate the threat of transmission.
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The factor I felt it was necessary is that I am basically a doctor and a researcher. I have actually been in the trenches. I have remained in emergency clinic treating patients. I have treated Ebola patients at the NIH. I spent decades in the early part of my profession treating frantically ill, HIV-infected people. Im not just somebody sitting in a room in Washington opining about things. I know what its like. So I felt that, because that has been my life experience, let me go out, call up people I understand in New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, and find out, is there any detach in whats going on the ground vs. what we view is going on as we sit in Washington? And I have actually found that in some cases the dots do not get connected and youve got to put a little extra effort, due to the fact that a lot of individuals were informing me that despite the fact that theres a great deal of screening, whats happening is that in some cases you need to wait a number of days to get results. And when youre doing contact tracing, if you need to wait a number of days, then you almost nullify the function of contact tracing. What I wished to discover is, what is the real impact of that testing? Thats the factor I called people up. Im still having those call.
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I wonder if you look at whats occurring now and are thinking about the fall, since theres been this concept that the virus might be seasonal, and if were keeping the infection rate high, then were going to actually get walloped when it gets cooler.
There was some reporting in the New York Times looking at how we got here, how we got this rise in cases, how the White House made a decision to provide more authority to the states and let them make their own options. Youre discussed in that article, and it talked about the reality that every night you were going home and calling public health authorities around the country to say what was happening where you are.
There was some reporting in the New York Times looking at how we got here, how we got this surge in cases, how the White House made a choice to provide more authority to the states and let them make their own options. And I have actually discovered that sometimes the dots dont get connected and youve got to put a little extra effort, due to the fact that many of the people were informing me that even though theres a lot of testing, whats taking place is that sometimes you have to wait several days to get results.
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I said it is essential that we all start moving toward resuming the nation, getting the economy back, getting work back. I mean, thats simply the recipe to get into the kind of problem weve gotten into.
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When that takes place, you might need to take a second look and state: Now, wait a minute, if we are going to open, were either going to be in such bad shape that we cant open, or if we are going to open, weve got to creatively figure out a method to reduce the danger of transmission.