Dr Anthony Fauci‘s family received death threats following his appeals to Americans to take the public health crisis from the coronavirus pandemic seriously, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert said on Wednesday.
“I wouldn’t have imagined it 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 word of science, that they actually threaten you,” he said during a forum at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health.
He said that his family has obtained security following threats and harassment.
Dr Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, also warned against the nation’s “disparate” efforts among individuals and local governments to combat Covid-19, leaving a patchwork response among cities and states without a significant federally coordinated response.
“As 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 smoulder,” he said. “That will be the reason why in a non-unified way we’ve plateaued at an unacceptable level.”
He also condemned “a degree of anti-science feeling in this country” that is “almost related to authority and a mistrust in authority” – including the “ridiculous” politicisation of wearing masks to prevent transmission, he said.
“I think it’s not just related to science, it’s almost related to authority and a mistrust in authority that spills over, because in some respects, scientists – because they’re trying to present data – may be looked at ... as being an authoritative figure,” he said.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US have surged to nearly 4.8 million, with a seven-day average of roughly 60,000 daily cases, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The nation’s death toll has surpassed 157,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has averaged more than 1,000 deaths a day for more than a week.
A surge in new infections followed the lifting of stay-at-home measures and business reopenings in May and June. The nation’s confirmed cases more than doubled within six weeks from June to July.
Though the US performed more than 60 million tests, the positive rate continued to increase, while Americans have reported significant delays in receiving results, often waiting up to more than a week, by which point a diagnosis cannot be meaningfully addressed.
“It’s unacceptable, period,” said Dr Fauci, speaking to CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta. “For me to say anything different is distorting reality.”
In Donald Trump‘s recent interview with Axios, the president falsely claimed that the US is “lower than the world” in “numerous categories” and dismissed the nation’s death toll (”it is what it is”) by insisting that the administration is “doing everything” in its power to combat and control the outbreak.
The president touted that the US death rate by the case is lower than in other countries, though the percentage of the overall US population that has died is much higher, as interviewer Jonathan Swan pointed out.
“You can’t do that,” the president replied.