Posts tagged with "Dr. Anthony Fauci"

‘Neanderthal thinking’: Biden lays into states lifting COVID restrictions

March 5, 2021

President Joe Biden said on March 3 that moves by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves to lift statewide COVID restrictions represented “Neanderthal thinking.”

“I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference,” Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other COVID mitigation measures. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

According to a report by Politico, the president’s remark came after both Texas and Mississippi issued executive orders on Tuesdayflying in the face of health officials who have urged continued COVID restrictions. Biden has signed an executive order requiring mask-wearing on federal property but has little authority to overrule governors and other state and local officials.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) laid into Biden after his remarks on Wednesday. “President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘neanderthal thinking.’ Mississippians don’t need handlers,” Reeves wrote in a tweet. “As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”

Later in the evening, the governor criticized Biden as being out of touch with people who live outside the Beltway.

“Today I feel the same way as I did the day that Hillary Clinton called all of us in Middle America ‘deplorables,’” he said on Fox News, referencing a comment the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee had made about supporters of Donald Trump. “When President Biden said that we were all Neanderthals, it struck me as someone who needs to get outside of Washington, D.C., and actually travel to Middle America.”

In a statement to Politico, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said Abbott was “clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID.”

“The fact is, Texas now has the tools and knowledge to combat COVID while also allowing Texans and small businesses to make their own decisions,” Eze said. “It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans.”

On Wednesday evening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top health adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called these actions “ill advised.“ Although coronavirus numbers have declined since January highs, they have seemingly plateaued at levels that have concerned health officials.

“It‘s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,“ Fauci said on CNN. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you‘re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines, particularly when we‘re dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 75,000 infections per day in the United States. That‘s a very, very high baseline.“

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki earlier on Wednesday called on Americans to continue wearing masks and practice other pandemic mitigation measures even as governors in some states lift COVID restrictions, Politico notes.

“This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic,” Psaki said. “People are starting to feel a little bit better in some cases. You go to the grocery store and there’s Clorox wipes available. A year into this, that feels better, but there’s still more that needs to be done. We need to remain vigilant.”

“We’re not asking people just to listen to the president,” she also said. “Of course, we recommend that, but we ask people to listen to health experts, medical experts, the CDC, to Dr. Fauci, to others who are basing their recommendations on how to save people’s lives.”

Research contact: @politico

Biden asks Fauci to be his chief medical advisor—and Fauci says yes ‘on the spot’

December 7, 2020

Following their first meeting on Thursday, December 3, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), immediately agreed to be President-elect Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor when the new administration takes over on January 20.

Biden told CNN on Thursday that he had asked Fauci to take on the role. Fauci told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday that he had said yes “on the spot.”

Biden’s coronavirus team met with Fauci for the first time Thursdayand at that time, Biden told CNN, “I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team.”

Biden unveiled his 13-person coronavirus advisory board in November. The panel will be led by three chairs: Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general; Marcella Nunez-Smith, an associate professor of medicine at Yale University; and David Kessler, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

Although the relationship between Fauci and President Donald Trump went south after the POTUS refused to take action on delivering PPE to the medical community or testing the American population during the pandemic-but he is expected to play a pivotal role on Biden’s team.

Trump has been reluctant to support mask mandates or restrictions that might cause economic damage, and he is said to have not attended a meeting of the coronavirus task force in five months, Fortune says.

Trump also helped stall the presidential transition, making it hard until recently for Biden’s team to communicate with Fauci and other public-health officials.

Fauci spoke out against this in November, saying said it would be “better” for public health if he and other health officials could begin working with the president-elect’s transition team.

Fauci also has accused the Trump campaign of “in effect harassing” him after using a clip of his praising the America’s coronavirus response out of context in a campaign ad.

The United States has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths of any country worldwide. Almost 14 million Americans have tested positive for the virus, and more than 273,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Fauci said Thursday marked the first day of “substantive discussions” about the transition between him and Biden’s team.

Research contact: @CNN

Moderna announces vaccine nearly 95% effective

November 17, 2020

The new vaccine from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna, the biotechnology company, is 94.5% effective against coronavirus, according to a release from the company on November 16—making it the second vaccine to look promising enough to hit the market soon in America, Yahoo reports in an article picked up from the blog, Eat This, Not That.

Last week, New York City-based Pfizer’s vaccine was found to be more than 90% effective.

“This is a pivotal moment in the development of our COVID-19 vaccine candidate,” Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement. “Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. All along, we have known that each day matters.”

Bancel emphasizes, “This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease.”

On hearing the news, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor commented to CNN, “These are obviously very exciting results …. It’s just as good as it gets—94.5% is truly outstanding.”

Regarding the timetable, Fauci said of the Pfizer vaccine the following, which could also apply to Moderna: “What will happen is that,” after the emergency authorization is approved, “at the end of November, the beginning of December, if that goes through—and again, I don’t want to get ahead of the FDA, if they’re going to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s—but I believe with the impressive nature of the data that that should go through smoothly, that by the time we get into December, we’ll be able to have doses available for people who are judged to be at the highest priority to get.”

As for logistics, “about getting the supply chain intact with the cold requirements”—the vaccine needs to be shipped at a certain low temperature—”that’s all been anticipated and part of Operation Warp Speed, particularly on the general, Gus Perna, the general from the army who has been responsible for making sure this goes smoothly. We anticipate, although they’re all logistic challenges that it will be done successfully.”

As for who gets these vaccines first, Fauci said: “What we have well-established in this country is that the ultimate decision of the distribution in priority, or it goes with the CDC, their advisory committee on immunization practices, traditionally over the years for other vaccines has been responsible for advising them as to the prioritization of the distribution.”

Regular folks with no underlying conditions might have theirs by April.

Research contact: @Yahoo

At late-night Miami rally, Trump threatens to boot Fauci ‘after the election’

November 3, 2020

President Trump revealed at a rally early Monday morning that he was leaning toward firing America’s leading infectious disease expert—Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—after Election Day, further escalating the tension as the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States reaches record highs.

His supporters did not seem to have a problem with that plan—chanting, “Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!” after Trump revealed his intentions. The president listened in silence for a few moments before remarking: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice,” The New York Times reports.

The president spoke well past midnight at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida at his fifth and final rally of the day. Indeed, his comments about Dr. Fauci  came toward the end of what was a whirlwind day of campaigning across five states — Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida—nd he spoke even as a local curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus took effect at midnight.

 On Friday, more than 99,000 coronavirus infections were reported across the country, a single-day record. Nonetheless, the Times noted, Trump has maintained without citing evidence that the United States has “turned the corner” in fighting the virus, a point he reiterated at the rally early Monday.

That assertion is strongly disputed by Dr. Fauci, who told the The Washington Post in an interview published on October 31 ththe United States “could not possibly be positioned more poorly” as it heads into at winter. A White House spokesman later called Dr. Fauci’s comments “unacceptable.”

By contrast, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has said repeatedly that if he were to win the presidency, he is hopeful Dr. Fauci would remain in his role and serve in his administration.

According to the Times, Trump’s quip about Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was part of an hourlong mix of meanspirited jokes, misstatements, hyperbole, self-congratulation, and occasional on-script arguments he made for his re-election.

Mr. Trump has adopted Florida as his home turf, and it is a swing state that he desperately needs to win to open paths to another four-year term. Although he narrowly prevailed there in 2016, polls, including one released November 1 by The New York Times and Siena College, have shown him trailing Mr. Biden in a tight race.

Research contact: @nytimes

With Trump oblivious to COVID crisis, GOP begins to break ranks

July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump continues to press for a quick return to life as usual, but Republicans who fear a rampaging disease and angry voters are increasingly going their own way, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the Times notes, both the president’s “failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and his refusal to promote clear public-health guidelines have left many senior Republicans despairing that he will ever play a constructive role in addressing the crisis”—with some concluding that they must work around Trump and ignore or even contradict his pronouncements.

In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the GOP outside the White House have broken with the Denier-in-Chief over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public.

In addition , they have been acknowledging the importance of heeding the advice of health experts, such as  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., whom the president and other hard-right figures within the Administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.

According to the Times, they appear to be spurred by several overlapping forces— including deteriorating conditions in their own states, the president’s seeming indifference to the problem; and the approach of a presidential election in which Trump is badly lagging his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in the polls.

Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to the president’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.

 “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said of the pandemic. He noted that Abbott, a Republican, directs his requests to Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who regularly updated the public during the spring until the president  upstaged them with his own briefing-room monologues. And in his home state of Kentucky last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, broke with Trump on nearly every major issue related to the virus, the Times reports.

McConnell stressed the importance of mask-wearing, expressed “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci and urged Americans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Trump has ignored or dismissed.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is: This is not going away until we get a vaccine,” McConnell said on Wednesday, July 15, contradicting Trump’s rosy predictions that the virus “will just go away.”

The emerging rifts in Trump’s party have been slow to develop, but they have rapidly deepened since a new surge in coronavirus cases began to sweep the country last month.

In the final days of June, the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with the vice president  and urged the Administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus. Herbert said it would help states like his own if Trump and Pence were to encourage mask-wearing on a national scale, according to a recording of the call.

“As a responsible citizen, if you care about your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, let us show the respect necessary by wearing a mask,” Mr. Herbert said, offering language

Pence said the suggestion was “duly noted” and said that mask-wearing would be a “very consistent message” from the Administration.

But no such appeal was ever forthcoming from Trump, who asserted afterward that he would never advocate a national policy on mask-wearing or shutdowns.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, rejected criticisms of Trump’s lack of a hands-on approach. “Any suggestion that the president is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development, and rebuild our economy is utterly false,” Deere said in a statement.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump moves to manipulate COVID-19 case data; tells hospitals to bypass CDC and report to HHS

July 16, 2020

The Trump Administration—which has been anything but happy about the rising COVID-19 case numbers nationwide—now is positioning itself to manipulate the data on cases, recoveries, and deaths by having hospitals send it to a third party instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hospitals will begin sending coronavirus-related information directly to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—not the CDC—under new instructions from Trump. The move will take effect on Wednesday, July 15, according to a new guidance and FAQ document for hospitals and clinical labs quietly posted on the HHS website, according to a report by The Hill.

Previously, hospitals reported to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network, which the agency describes as the nation’s most widely used health care-associated infection tracking system. 

In addition to the number of COVID-19 cases, the CDC tracked such vital information as how many hospital ICU beds are open and the number of ventilators available.

According to HHS, the goal is to streamline data collection, which will be used to inform decisions at the federal level such as allocation of supplies, treatments and other resources, The Hill says.

But the move comes amid concerns that the White House has been sidelining the CDC and after Trump administration officials attacked Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Research contact: @thehill

‘Of course not’: Fauci says he won’t attend Trump rallies; advises Americans to avoid big crowds

June 18, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—and the top expert on COVID-19 in America— says he would not personally attend any upcoming rallies that President Donald Trump plans to hold for his 2020 re-election campaign because the coronavirus is still spreading.

“I’m in a high-risk category. Personally, I would not. Of course not,” Fauci, who’s 79, said in an interview with The Daily Beast on Tuesday, June 16.

He added about Trump campaign rallies, “outside is better than inside, no crowd is better than crowd” and “crowd is better than big crowd.”

Trump is scheduled to host his first campaign rally in months on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, inside of the city’s BOK Center, which can hold more than 19,000 people, NBC News reports. The president claimed on Monday, June 15, that 1 million people had requested tickets to the event.

Senior officials said Monday that hand sanitizer and face masks will be offered to all attendees, although they are not required to use them. They also will have their temperatures taken before entering the arena.

Some Tulsa officials have been warning Trump that the rally could worsen a current spike in coronavirus cases and local newspaper, NBC notes. Tulsa World published an editorial titled, “This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for the Trump rally.”

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, a Republican, is expected to visit the White House this week, ahead of the rally, to discuss reopening the economy.

Conversely, Dr. Fauci told The Daily Beast that he’s still worried about the uptick in COVID-19 cases in some states across the country. “We are seeing infections to a greater degree than they had previously seen in certain states, including states in the southwest and in the south,” he said.

A key member of the president’s coronavirus task force, Fauci also said in an interview Tuesday with NPR’s “1A” on WAMU in Washington, D.C., that he hasn’t spoken with Trump in two weeks. He said that he spoke with him “two weeks ago” and the conversation was about “vaccine development efforts.”

Asked for a response to Fauci’s latest interviews, the White House defended the current phased reopenings that it has been pushing without addressing Fauci directly.

“As the president has said, the cure cannot be worse than the disease and that is why all 50 states have begun the process of a phased reopening,” said White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere. “As this continues, the American people will use what they have learned about COVID-19 and take the appropriate precautions, such as social distancing, facial coverings, and regularly washing hands, to protect the public health and return us to a growing economy.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Dr. Fauci re-emerges from media blackout; says we’ll be ‘seeing more’ of him

May 25, 2020

He’s back! After a deafening silence that persisted for more than two weeks, top infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci re-emerged on the national stage on Thursday, May 21—appearing on CNN’s coronavirus town hall to mark his first major television interview since May 4.

While Fauci has recently been on a “modified quarantine” due to possible exposure to the White House staffers who have tested positive for COVID-19, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) chief has continued to participate in the White House coronavirus task force and testified before the Senate last week via remote, The Daily Beast reported.

Fauci, who has been targeted by pro-Trump figures after appearing to contradict some of the president’s comments on the virus, has been conspicuously absent from TV as the White House pushes for a robust reopening of the economy, as CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported earlier this week. Other public health experts on the task force, such as Dr. Deborah Birx, also have been been noticeably absent.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper immediately greeted Dr. Fauci on Thursday night by asking why the American public has heard so little from the task force and medical experts in recent weeks.

“And if they aren’t going to have daily briefings about facts and science, can you or the NIH or can the CDC have their own daily briefings with top scientists? There are a lot of Americans out there who still want to hear from scientists every day,” Cooper added.

“That’s a good point,” Fauci reacted. “I think you’re probably going to be seeing a little bit more of me and my colleagues. There was a period of time, there was a little bit of a lull of our being out there with the press.”

“I believe that’s going to change. We’ve been talking with the communications people and they realize we need to get some of this information out, particularly some of the scientific issues for which I’m predominantly responsible for. So hopefully we’ll be seeing more of us,” he continued.

The Daily Beast noted, Fauci would go on to say that the task force has “changed a bit” and that he’s in a subgroup with other public health leaders “talking about some of the scientific issues.” He further noted that the task force as a whole is more focused on reopening the economy and the economic impact of the pandemic.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Governors call Trump’s testing claims ‘delusional’ and ‘absolutely false’

April 21, 2020

Although President Donald Trump is pushing to “reopen” parts of the country by May 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), along with the leaders of six other states and the District of Columbia, already have extended their COVID-19 lockdowns through May 15.

What’s more, several governors are not mincing words about their opinion of the president’s decision, The Huffington Post reports.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D)—who has extended the lockdown for his state’s residents to June 10 and has instructed non-essential business to remain closed at least through May 8—on Sunday told CNN’s Jake Tapper it was “delusional” for President Donald Trump to claim the U.S. currently has the testing capacity needed for states to relax social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland’s Republican leader, Governor Larry Hogan, told Tapper that Trump’s claim “is just absolutely false.” “It’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there and the governors should just get it done,” Hogan said. “That’s just not being straightforward … Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests.”

Hogan added, “Look, we have increased our testing in Maryland by 5,000% over the past month, but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be.”

And they are not alone: Multiple health officials in the Trump administration have cautioned against setting May 1 as a target date to loosen social distancing guidelines, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said last week that the U.S. has not yet developed the testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the economy.

But that hasn’t stopped the president. On Saturday, echoing comments Vice President Mike Pence made a day prior, Trump claimed “experts” had said that “America’s testing capability and capacity is fully sufficient to begin opening up the country totally.”

Indeed, The Huffington Post reports, Trump has taken an adversarial stance toward a number of governors as states struggle to overcome nationwide test shortages. The Trump Administration has tried to cobble together a belated response to the pandemic and has faced criticism after initially calling concerns about the coronavirus a “hoax” and downplaying its impact.

In recent weeks, Trump has used language that appears aimed at shifting responsibility for the economic recovery from the administration to individual states.

“People’s initial reaction is always to look to the president, but as time goes on and it becomes clear other states are doing other things, that blame and credit will shift to the governors, considering they are the ones making the calls,” one Trump political adviser told Politico.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump berates Fauci for criticism of slow virus response

April 14, 2020

In his efforts to reframe the story of how he responded—late and less than adequately—to the looming COVID-19 crisis, President Donald Trump has collided fast and hard with the truth , as told by the government’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

The doctor said again last week that more lives could have been saved if the country had been shut down earlier—sending Trump into a Twitter rant, The New York Times reported.

Frustrated by Dr. Fauci’s reluctance to toe the party line, Trump reposted a Twitter message that said “Time to #FireFauci” as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 people in the United States. The president privately has been irritated at times with Dr. Fauci, but the Twitter post was the most explicit he has been in letting that show publicly the news outlet said.

The message that the president retweeted came from a former Republican congressional candidate whom Trump had suported. “Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives,” said the tweet by DeAnna Lorraine, who got less than 2% of the vote in an open primary against Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. “Fauci was telling people on February 29 that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US at large. Time to #Fire Fauci.”

In reposting the message, Trump added: “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up.”

The Times pointed out that the tweet came amid a flurry of messages blasted out by the president on Sunday, April 12, defending his handling of the coronavirus, which has come under sharp criticism, and pointing the finger instead at China, the World Health Organization, President Barack Obama, the nation’s governors, Congress, Democrats generally and the news media.

In truth, Trump did not “ban China,” but he did block foreign nationals who had been in China in the past 14 days from coming into the United States,  starting on February 2. Despite the policy, 40,000 Americans and other authorized travelers have still come into the country from China since then.

Dr. Fauci and other public health experts were initially skeptical that the China travel restrictions would be useful when the president was first considering them, but then changed their minds and told Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of Health and Human Services, on the morning of January 30 that they supported them.

The president has repeatedly pointed back to those travel limits to defend his handling of the pandemic, but experts have said the limits were useful mainly to buy time that the administration did not then use to ramp up widespread testing and impose social distancing policies before infections could begin growing exponentially.

By the third week of February, advisers had drafted a list of measures they believed would soon be necessary, like school closures, sports and concert cancellations and stay-at-home orders, but the president did not embrace them until mid-March.

Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, said on Sunday that earlier imposition of such policies would have made a difference.

“I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” he said on “State of the Union” on CNN. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated. But you’re right. Obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down.”

Dr. Fauci has become a celebrated figure among much of the public, which trusts him far more than Mr. Trump, according to polls. A Quinnipiac University survey last week found that 78% of Americans approved of Dr. Fauci’s handling of the crisis compared with 46% who approved of the president’s response. 

Research contact: @nytimes