Fauci: Death threats are sign of anti-science sentiment
Suggests country is not rowing together to fight coronavirus
ANTHONY FAUCI, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is receiving death threats while working on mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
“Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters, to the point where I have to get security is just — I mean, it’s amazing,” Fauci said Wednesday during an interview organized by Harvard’s School of Public Health with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
“I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that people who object to things that are pure public health principles, are so set against it and don’t like what you and I say, namely in the world of science, that they actually threaten you,” Fauci said.
Fauci has advised six presidents while serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He has led responses to the AIDS epidemic, Ebola spread, and avian flu. He agreed with Gupta that the US has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, a point President Trump has disputed, most recently this past weekend in a tweet that said infections are up because testing has increased.
Fauci said the anti-science sentiment in the country is what has made uniform response to the virus difficult nationwide. “There is a degree of anti-science feeling in this country, and I think it is not just related to science. It’s almost related to authority and a mistrust in authority that spills over,” Fauci said, mentioning people who refuse to wear masks or politicize the wearing of them.
Fauci said most countries responded to the coronavirus by launching prevention efforts at the local level until infection rates went down to a low baseline level. Only then did those countries begin the reopening process, he said. The United States, he said, did not follow the same approach. “We came down to a plateau of 20,000 new cases per day. That’s not a good baseline. We have to get further down,” he said.
While many parts of the United States did a good job controlling the virus, Fauci said, other states did not. He likened the country to his daughter’s college crew team. On a crew team, he said, everyone needs to be rowing together. If one person gets a cramp and is out of sync, then winning isn’t an option, he said.
“So long as you have any member of society, any demographic group who’s not seriously trying to get to the end game of suppressing this, it will continue to smolder and smolder,” Fauci said.
He said the country doesn’t need to go into another shutdown to stop the spread, but it requires communities to be united in following social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. “You can still reopen the economy and stop surges from happening,” he said.More testing and the development of a vaccine would also help, Fauci said. He said that having widespread and accurate tests for COVID-19 with results available in just minutes would meet his definition of a breakthrough. “You could do it in schools and tell if someone is infected or not,” he said.
Fauci also addressed the racial disparities exposed by COVID-19. Fauci called it a “double negative disparity,” saying that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans traditionally work in jobs that don’t allow them to work from behind a computer, safe from the human interaction that spreads the virus.