Dr Anthony Fauci said during a panel discussion on Thursday that Americans should prepare to ‘hunker down’ for the fall and winter as the US heads into flu season.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert was speaking on a panel of doctors for Harvard Medical School when he warned: ‘Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things.
‘We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy,’ Fauci said.
Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, also expressed concern over a possible Labor Day surge due to large gatherings across the US.
Fauci’s comments come as the US surpassed 191,000 deaths on Thursday. The nation has also reported more than 6.3 million cases of the virus.
Dr Anthony Fauci said during a panel discussion on Thursday that Americans should prepare to ‘hunker down’ for the fall and winter as the US heads into flu season
Earlier on Thursday, it was revealed that an official at the Department of Health and Human Services has been trying to stop Fauci from speaking publicly about the risks of COVID-19 in children.
Emails obtained by Politico show that HHS official Dr Paul Alexander has been trying to instruct Fauci’s staff about what he should say during media interviews.
Alexander, who is a senior adviser to Trump-appointed HHS assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, asked as recently as Tuesday for Fauci to avoid advocating for children to wear masks.
‘Can you ensure Dr Fauci indicates masks are for the teachers in schools. Not for children,’ Alexander wrote in an email to Fauci’s spokesperson ahead of an interview with MSNBC.
‘There is no data, none, zero, across the entire world, that shows children especially young children, spread this virus to other children, or to adults or to their teachers. None. And if it did occur, the risk is essentially zero.’
In an August 27 email, Alexander wrote that he ‘vehemently’ disagreed with the infectious disease expert.
That email was in response to a summary from the press office at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases about what Fauci planned to tell a Bloomberg reporter.
‘I continue to have an issue with kids getting tested and repeatedly and even university students in a widespread manner… and I disagree with Dr Fauci on this. Vehemently,’ he wrote.
Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, also expressed concern over a possible Labor Day surge due to large gatherings across the US
Some emails show that Fauci’s aides have pushed back against Alexander’s requests.
One scientist at the institute wrote to Alexander in late August, saying she disagreed with his suggestion that COVID-19 posed ‘zero’ risk to children.
‘I am an infectious diseases physician on Dr Fauci’s staff,’ Andrea Lerner, a medical officer in the Office of the Director, wrote in the email.
Fauci, who has been director of the institute since 1984, denied the suggestion that he was being muzzled.
He said he hadn’t seen the emails and that no one on his staff advised him on what to say.
‘I would never be muzzled about anything when it comes to science and evidence and the facts,’ Fauci told Fox News.
Fauci has, at times, been at odds with the Trump administration during the coronavirus pandemic.
He has previously warned that some schools in certain areas should be more cautious about reopening amid the pandemic.
Fauci said schools in regions with low infections, which would be considered ‘green zones’, would have no problem reopening.
‘If you’re in a yellow zone, it’s more of a risk, so you may want to modify your schedule,’ he said.
More than 6.3 million cases of the virus have been reported in the US. There have been at least 191,536 deaths
‘If you’re in a red zone, there’s a high degree of viral activity, I think you need to think twice before you get children to go back to school.’
On Wednesday, it emerged that Fauci had criticized President Donald Trump as ‘rudderless’ in dealing with the pandemic, according to Bob Woodward’s bombshell new book, Rage.
He made the comment to an associate, Woodward says.
Trump’s ‘attention span is like a minus number,’ Woodward quotes Fauci as saying.
‘His sole purpose is to get reelected,’ according to the book, which reports Fauci told other players that Trump ‘is on a separate channel’ and wasn’t focused in meetings.
The release of the book excerpts came on a day Fauci said he is ‘frustrated’ by large political gatherings where many people aren’t wearing masks – even as he once again sought to temper what might come off as public criticism of Trump.
Fauci called on public officials to ‘set an example’ following a Trump rally in North Carolina attended by thousands of people.
Fauci, who for months has tried to balance his desire to share public health warnings without drawing headlines that put him at odds with Trump, was asked on ‘CBS This Morning’ if it was frustrating for him as an expert to see rallies with large contingents of unmasked people.
‘The president continues to hold these massive rallies where people are not wearing masks including the president himself,’ interviewer Gayle King asked Fauci.
‘Well, yes, it is. I’ve said that often,’ Fauci responded. ‘That situation is we want to set an example. Because we know that when you do four or five typical kind of public health measures: mask, physical distance, avoiding crowds, making sure you do most things outdoors versus indoors,’ he continued.
‘Those are the kinds of things that turn around surges and also prevent us from getting surges. So I certainly would like to see universal wearing of masks,’ he said.