Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said he and his family are getting death threats because people don’t like what he says about COVID-19.
“Getting death threats for me, and my family, and harassing my daughters, to the point where I have to get security is just — I mean, it’s amazing,” Fauci said during an interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta on Wednesday.
“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 noted that crises like COVID-19 has brought out the best of people but also the worst of people.
Fauci’s notoriety has been elevated by COVID-19, as he is often on TV offering a blunt portrayal of the state of the pandemic in the U.S.
Fauci, 79, is one of the world’s most respected infectious disease experts, having advised six presidents on HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika and other health crises. He has earned a reputation for being blunt and willing to correct the president.
Fauci has had a security detail since at least April.
Fauci also reflected on what he says is a degree of “anti-science” sentiment in the U.S. that is making it difficult to get people to do things to slow the spread of COVID-19 like wearing masks.
“There is a degree of anti-science feeling in this country, and I think it is not just related to science. It’s almost related to authority and a mistrust in authority that spills over,” he told Gupta.
“Because in some respects, scientists, because they’re trying to present data, may be looked upon as being an authoritative figure, and the pushing back on authority, the pushing back on government is the same as pushing back on science.”
He said the scientific community should be more transparent and reach out to people to underscore the importance of science and evidence-based policy.
“I know when I say that if we follow these five or six principles, we can open up we don’t have to stay shut…There are some people that just don’t believe me or don’t pay attention to that. And that’s unfortunate because that is the way out of this,” he said.
President Trump has repeatedly undermined Fauci, questioning the White House coronavirus task force member on Twitter and in interviews with the media.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted out a video of a portion of Fauci’s testimony explaining why the U.S. has recorded more cases than European cases and called it “wrong.” Trump has falsely claimed several times that the U.S. has more cases because it is doing more testing.
Trump has also retweeted multiple messages that question Fauci’s expertise, including one last week that said he had “misled the American public.”