Fauci: Partisanship in US has made it harder to suppress coronavirus

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci defends voting by mail if 'you don't want to take the chance' in person Museum unveils new Fauci bobbleheads after previous edition sells out Marlee Matlin: 'Unfathomable' that White House doesn't have sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings MORE, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said Thursday that hyperpartisanship in the U.S. has made it difficult to suppress the coronavirus. 

“You have to be having blindfolders on and covering your ears to think we don’t live in a very divisive society from a political standpoint,” Fauci told the hosts of the FiveThirtyEight podcast. “It’s just unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Fauci's comments come as states across the South and Western U.S. have experienced massive outbreaks of the disease, including Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma. The infectious disease expert said on Thursday at a virtual event hosted by The Hill that some Southern states that are being hit hard opened too soon. 

"What we've seen, unfortunately, is that in some of the Southern states, the states have not really followed those guidelines in some respects and jumped over the benchmarks," Fauci said.

Since the start of the pandemic, states have taken varying approaches to mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, with some Democratic and Republican state leaders at odds about the degree of those restrictions. 

ADVERTISEMENT

A handful of states who reopened earlier than recommended by public health officials are currently experiencing outbreaks, and states who experienced outbreaks early on are recovering and have imposed domestic travel restrictions.

Another debate between Democratic and Republican leaders at the federal and local levels is whether or not to issue a mandatory order on facial coverings. Recent studies have shown that wearing facial coverings in public could be an effective way to contain the spread of the virus and even help state economies. 

Trump and Republican state leaders, such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have previously lashed out at Fauci for suggesting they reopened prematurely. 

"Fauci said that he’s concerned about states like Texas that skipped over certain things. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about," Patrick said on Fox News after Fauci testified before a Senate committee about the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Patrick's comments came the same day in early July when Texas recorded about 7,000 new cases of the coronavirus. Since then, the state has continually recorded one-day confirmed coronavirus case highs, with the state nearing 10,000 new infections per day. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“And you know from experience historically that when you don't have unanimity in an approach to something, you’re not as effective in how you handle it,” Fauci said. “So I think you’d have to make the assumption that if there wasn’t such divisiveness, that we would have a more coordinated approach.”

The Trump administration has come under fire for what critics call a fractured approach to combating the coronavirus. Public health officials and Democrats have criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE for downplaying the effects of the virus over the Fourth of July weekend, after the president claimed that 99 percent of the virus cases are "harmless." 

“He is facilitating the virus. He is enabling the virus by statements like that and you’re seeing the infection rate go up, and you're seeing the economy suffer, and he is part of that current debacle that we are in,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Monday.