Anthony Fauci, current director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, called on the federal government to take a more uniform approach to combating the pandemic, rather than relying on each state to come up with their own statewide plans or regulations.
“We need some fundamental public health measures that everyone should be adhering to, not a disjointed, ‘One state says one thing, the other state says another thing,'” Fauci said on Tuesday.
There are indeed a number of different ways in which each state is handling the pandemic. On the issue of masks alone, less than two-thirds of all states have a rule about wearing them in public places, while 16 states have not yet implemented a mask mandate. Of those that have a mandate, the rules for when and where masks must be worn also differ from state to state.
Coordinated action from the federal government to deal with COVID-19 is desired by a majority of Americans, particularly on the issue of masks. According to a recent Hill/HarrisX poll, 75 percent of Americans — including 59 percent of Republicans — would support a national mask mandate.
Fauci, who was speaking during a virtual conference put on by The New York Times, also said that, beyond a unified federal approach to quelling the virus, a cooperative agreement between the outgoing and incoming administrations was also needed. Drawing on his own experiences leading NIAID since 1984, Fauci, without specifically saying his name, appeared to call on President Donald Trump to allow President-elect Joe Biden to have access to federal health officials in order to allow for a smooth transition.
“I’ve been through five transitions; I can say that transitions are extremely important to the smooth continuity of whatever you’re doing. We need to transition to the team that will be doing it, similar to how we’re doing it,” Fauci said.
Political theater would not help in the fight against coronavirus, Fauci said.
“We’ve got to get public health issues out of the realm of political divisiveness — this is not a political issue,” Fauci added. “We’ve got to do everything we possibly can to pull together as a nation.”
Biden himself has called on Trump, who has not yet conceded to losing the presidential election, to allow a transition to happen. By refusing to do so, the president-elect has said, Trump is putting the country at greater risk.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden said on Monday.
Those sentiments are shared by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Nurses Association, which on Tuesday sent a letter to Trump urging him to allow Biden’s transition team access to federal government health plans and information in order to “save countless lives.”
“All information about the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines needs to be shared as quickly as possible to ensure that there is continuity in strategic planning so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients,” the three medical associations wrote in their joint letter.