White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci said Wednesday that he and his family have faced harassments and threats from individuals who are angry about his medical advice on COVID-19.
The threats made have been so extreme, Fauci said, that he’s had to hire security to protect his family.
“The unseemingly things that crises bring out in the world, it brings out the best of people and the worst of people, and getting death threats to my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security — it’s amazing,” Fauci lamented during an interview that aired on CNN.
Fauci, who serves as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that he “wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams” that people would act in such ways. “I mean, that to me is just strange,” he added.
Fauci is widely seen by the public as a trustworthy source when it comes to issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. A recent Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 62 percent of Americans view his handling of the crisis as “excellent” or “good,” while just 30 percent would give him a “fair” or “poor” rating overall.
Those numbers change, however, when it comes to those who voted for President Donald Trump in 2016. Among that subset of voters, only 45 percent give Fauci grades of “excellent” or “good” when it comes to his handling of coronavirus, while 50 percent said he deserves only “fair” or “poor” marks.
That may be due to the fact that Trump himself has expressed being irritated or in disagreement with Fauci on a number of occasions. Fauci has frequently contradicted Trump’s comments on the pandemic.
Trump has sometimes lashed out at Fauci’s corrections.
During testimony before Congress last week, for example, Fauci said that Europe was controlling the spread of COVID-19 better than the U.S. because those nations shut down their economies much earlier.
“Wrong!” the president wrote in response. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases.”
Trump’s assertion that more testing explains the rise in cases has been debunked several times.
In mid-July, the White House even attempted to discredit Fauci as a trustworthy source on coronavirus, a move that ultimately backfired.
Weeks later, Trump complained about Fauci being seen as more reliable when it comes to the pandemic. “He’s got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration — with respect to the virus?” Trump asked.
A number of right-wing media have pushed false narratives and conspiracy theories about Fauci, including claims that he’s a member of the so-called “deep state.” Far-right podcast host and fervent Trump supporter Bill Mitchell has also suggested, without evidence, that Fauci is a “plant” for Trump’s main 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton. Some conspiracy theorists have also peddled the claim that Fauci is responsible for creating the coronavirus.
The president has done very little to dispel those theories or to defend Fauci against dubious claims. Late last month, Trump even retweeted a video that included harsh criticisms of Fauci and argued the infectious diseases expert was misleading the American public.
“I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances,” Fauci later said in response to the president’s retweet.