Dr Anthony Fauci has revealed he and his family have been forced to hire personal security after receiving death threats from those who object to his work on the coronavirus pandemic.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert admitted to CNN that he has been surprised by the harassment he, his wife and his three adult daughters, Jennifer, 34, Megan, 31, and Alison, 28, have received.
During a livestreamed talk on Wednesday, Fauci said that the crisis ‘brings out the best of people and the worst of people’.
He added: ‘Getting death threats for me and my family and harassing my daughters to the point where I have to get security, it’s amazing.’
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Fauci said that his family were ‘fine’ but stressed by the threats.
‘I wouldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams that people who object to things that are pure public health principles are so set against it and don’t like what you and I say, namely in the world of science, that they actually threaten you,’ he said.
The Faucis have been targets of hate mail and threatening warnings since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic from people who disagree with the science behind regulations.
Fauci, who is also on the White House coronavirus task force, said many of the threats are from Americans who believe he is pushing a personal agenda.
Fauci has had his own personal security detail since April. During an earlier interview on the subject in July, he called the threats ‘a little bit disturbing’.
Fauci revealed that it is not the first time he’s been threatened and said it also occurred during the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s and 1990s.
‘Back in the days of HIV when I was being criticized with some hate mail, it was, you know, people calling me a gay-lover and ‘What the hell are you wasting a lot of time on that?” he said.
‘I mean, things that you would just push aside as stupid people saying stupid things,’
However, Fauci said there are differences in the threats he received back then and the ones now.
‘As much as people inappropriately, I think, make me somewhat of a hero…there are people who get really angry at thinking I’m interfering with their life because I’m pushing a public-health agenda,’ he said.
‘[This has led to] not only hate mail but serious threats against me, against my family…my daughters, my wife – I mean, really? Is this the United States of America?’
Fauci added: ‘We are all trying to open up American again in a way that is safe, that we can do it in a measured fashion. But the hostility against public health issues is difficult to not only understand but difficult to even process.’
On Wednesday, Fauci said the US needs to drive new COVID-19 cases downwards to under 10,000 per day by next month or risk a catastrophic situation in the fall.
The US is currently averaging about 60,000 new cases each day.
On Monday he stated that coronavirus cases needed to decline rapidly in order to gain some control of the pandemic by the end of the year.
He said Americans should wear masks, keep physically distanced, shut down bars, wash their hands and favor outdoor activities over indoor ones in order to help stop transmission of the virus.
‘If we follow these five or six principles, we can open up. We don’t have to stay shut,’ Fauci said.
‘That is the way out of this. We can continue to go toward normality without doing the drastic things of shutting down,’ he added.
In recent months, Fauci has become vocal about his fears in opening schools and businesses before the virus is under control.
In July, the White House distributed a list of errors they claim Fauci made at the start of the pandemic.
One unnamed person told CNN that ‘several White House officials’ were ‘concerned about the number of times Dr Fauci has been wrong on things.’
At one point top trader adviser Peter Navarro broke protocol and published an op-ed in USA TODAY describing Fauci as ‘wrong about everything’.
Dan Scavino, the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, shared a political cartoon portraying Fauci as a leaky faucet.
Even President Donald Trump told Fox News in an interview with Chris Wallace, which aired last month, that Fauci is a ‘little bit of an alarmist’.
‘It’s disconcerting when you see people are not listening,’ he told The New York Times in reference to people changing their behaviors to combat the spread of COVID-19.
‘I could show you some of the emails and texts I get – everybody seems to have my cellphone number – that are pretty hostile about what I’m doing, as if I’m encroaching upon their individual liberties.’
In the US, there are currently more than 4.7 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 156,000 deaths.
California, Florida and Texas collectively accounted for nearly 180,000 of the new cases, though new infections were lower in all three states compared to the previous week.
Cases rose week-over-week in 20 states, including in Oklahoma where cases have risen for nine weeks in a row, in Montana where cases are up for eight straight weeks, and in Missouri where infections have risen for seven weeks.
Florida surpassed 500,000 cases as of Wednesday. The state also reported record-high hospitalizations with more than 600 admissions in a singe day.
Though the state’s new cases were below 10,000 for the 11th day in a row, Florida officials reported an additional 5,409 cases on Wednesday to push the statewide total past 500,000.
Florida now has 502,739 infections, just second to California, which has more than 519,000 cases.