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Fauci says he was nervous about catching COVID-19 in Trump White House

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Anthony Fauci said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he worried about contracting the coronavirus during the Trump administration because of its lax approach to the virus.

Fauci, who is 80 years old and has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades, said his age category was always in the back of his mind particularly when he visited the White House under then-President Trump.

“I think you’d have to be oblivious not to consider the fact that if you get infected that you are already in a category of someone who has a high risk of having a serious outcome,” Fauci said in the interview, a clip of which was posted Monday. “I didn’t fixate on that, but it was in the back of my mind because I had to be out there, I mean, particularly when I was going to the White House every day when the White House was sort of a superspreader location.”

“That made me a little bit nervous,” he continued. 

Officials in the previous administration did not strictly adhere to public health guidelines, such as mask wearing and refraining from holding large events. White House doctors administered rapid tests for COVID-19 to everyone coming in contact with Trump and then-Vice President Mike Pence, but the strategy did not prevent the coronavirus from eventually spreading within the West Wing.

Fauci was one of several officials on the White House coronavirus task force who met regularly with Pence to discuss the response to the pandemic. He did not contract the virus and was vaccinated publicly with the Moderna vaccine in December, before President Biden took office. 

Trump continued to hold large campaign rallies and official White House events throughout the pandemic, as he minimized coronavirus risks in his public remarks. Several individuals who attended an event in September where Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus. Fauci later described the ceremony as a “superspreader event.”

Trump, his wife Melania, and their son Barron eventually were diagnosed with the virus in October. The former president recovered after three days of treatment at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. 

White House officials were also often seen without masks under Trump. Biden on his first day in office signed an executive order requiring mask usage on federal property. He also signed an executive order mandating mask use on modes of interstate travel.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Anthony Fauci Coronavirus Donald Trump Joe Biden Mask Mike Pence Ruth Bader Ginsburg Social distancing superspreader task force West Wing

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