Fauci: ‘Divisive nature’ in US hampering coronavirus response
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said in a new interview that the “divisive state” of U.S. society is a roadblock to the country’s coronavirus pandemic response, calling out individuals “taking sides” on public health measures like wearing a mask, social distancing and more.
“From a research and public health standpoint, I try my best, and I think I’m successful, in giving a consistent message as often as I can get the message out, something that is just based on the scientific data, based on evidence, which is something that is really very important,” Fauci told “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” on Monday.
“One of the things that I think gets in the way is that we are in such a divisive state in society that it tends to get politicized. It’s almost one side versus the other,” he continued.
Fauci added that “everybody feels we need to open the economy and get people back to work, to get people back to school,” calling health precautions like wearing a face mask and frequently washing hands “a pathway to opening the country, as opposed to the obstacle to opening the country.”
“What has evolved now is that almost people take sides, like wearing a mask or not is a political statement, and that’s really very unfortunate. Totally unfortunate, because this is a purely public health issue. It should not be one against the other,” Fauci told Noah.
Noah also asked the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director why there “isn’t a centralized source of information like there is in many other countries around the world.” The host cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday retracting guidance on how the coronavirus spreads. He also noted President Trump last week contradicted CDC Director Robert Redfield on potential vaccine distribution and the efficacy of face masks.
“I think the confused messages you’re alluding to correctly and appropriately is that you don’t have a single message when messages get sort of thrown into political buckets, and that’s something that I really wish, that conversations like you and I are having now would dispel that and put that aside and say, for goodness sakes, I’ve never had any political ideology that I’ve made public,” Fauci said.
“I’m really just talking to you about public health. When I’m telling you wear a mask, keep social distancing, avoid crowds, wash your hands, do things outdoors more than indoors, there’s nothing political about that. That’s a public health message that we know works,” he continued.
The public health official called on Americans to follow public health guidance to lower the level of COVID-19 cases ahead of the flu season in the fall and winter.
“We have within our capability the ability to turn this around,” Fauci added.