Story at a glance
- The comments from the top infectious disease expert come as coronavirus outbreaks in several states worsened.
- He said there’s currently a mistrust of science because science is viewed as authority.
- Arizona, Florida, California and several other states set records in daily COVID-19 increases this week.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert expressed frustration Friday about the country’s struggle to stop the spread of the coronavirus as cases continue to rise in many parts of the nation as states reopen.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), told CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy Friday morning Americans aren’t adhering to health recommendations to curb the spread.
“Clearly, we have not succeeded in getting the public as a whole, uniformly to respond in a way that is a sound scientific [response to a] public health and medical situation,” Fauci told CBS News Radio. “I mean, it is clear because right now, you’re seeing people throughout the country [contracting the virus]. And it’s unfortunate. And it’s frustrating.”
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Fauci put part of the blame on leadership, but said “sometimes, when the leadership calls out for people to obey certain types of guidelines, they don’t do it.”
“And that’s the reason why we’re seeing the burst of infections that we’re seeing right now in our country,” Fauci added.
Fauci said the problem doesn’t lie with guidance from local leaders as leadership has actually given the right guidelines, but says people, for one reason or another, people “don’t believe it or [are] not fazed by it.” He noted that there’s a type of anti-science trend in the country that may be contributing to the disregard of advice from health experts.
“It’s the kind of mistrust of science because science is viewed as authority. And there’s a lot of anti-authority feeling. I think that’s the kind of thing that drives the anti-vaxxers, the people who don’t believe the science of vaccination and don’t want to get their children vaccinated,” Fauci said, calling it “very disturbing.”
On Thursday, Arizona, Florida, California, South Carolina and Texas all set records in new daily coronavirus cases. More than 2.1 million Americans have contracted the virus with more than 118,000 deaths.
In response California now requires people to wear face coverings outside the home, although mandatory mask-wearing has continued to be controversial. The sheriff of Orange County, Calif., says he will not enforce the statewide requirement, the Washington Post reports.
Meanwhile, President Trump is set to address a packed audience for a campaign rally Saturday at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. The arena holds more than 19,000 people. The campaign says it will be doing temperature checks and providing masks and hand sanitizer upon entry, but to attend the rally, people had to sign waivers stating they could not sue the campaign if they contracted COVID-19.
The president and some in his administration have largely opted out of wearing masks while out in public, despite federal public health officials’ recommendations to do so.
Large groups of people are also continuing to gather for protests following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, while demonstrations and celebrations are taking place Friday for Juneteenth.
“Avoid crowds,” Fauci told CBS News Radio, adding that if people do not feel compelled to do so, they should “wear a mask at all times.”
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