Part 13. CORONAVIRUS. March 14, 2020. “If I’m buying real estate in New York, I’ll listen to the President….If I’m asking about infectious diseases, I’m going to listen to Tony Fauci,” *

 * Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.)  (A)

“Very plainly, Trump needs Fauci more than Fauci needs Trump.”

to read Parts 1-13 in chronological order click on

“You’ve heard of Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, but before the novel coronavirus outbreak, you might never have heard of Dr. Fauci. Today, he’s everywhere.

“You should never destroy your own credibility. And you don’t want to go to war with a president,” Fauci, who has served under six presidents, told Politico. “But you got to walk the fine balance of making sure you continue to tell the truth.”

He’s had decades of practice since he was appointed in 1984 and guided the response for the HIV/AIDS, SARS and Ebola outbreaks, among others. His service has been awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and numerous other honors, including 45 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in the United States and abroad.” (B)

“A virus that is deadly and little understood. An administration in deep denial. Anthony S. Fauci has been here before.

As the coronavirus epidemic escalates, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has become a familiar media presence.

Fauci’s expertise and credibility shine against the contradictory and false messages coming from President Trump. The administration has at times sounded more concerned with protecting the president politically than stopping the spread of a potentially lethal disease.

While Trump tries to play down the severity of a public health crisis that might affect his reelection prospects, Fauci has laid out the best assessment of the true danger in stark terms.” (C)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, is widely respected for his ability to explain science without talking down to his audience — and lately, for managing to correct the president’s pronouncements without saying he is wrong.

President Trump said that drug companies would make a coronavirus vaccine ready “soon.” Dr. Fauci has repeatedly stepped up after the president to the lectern during televised briefings or at White House round tables to amend that timetable, giving a more accurate estimate of at least a year or 18 months.

Mr. Trump said a “cure” might be possible. Dr. Fauci explained that antiviral drugs were being studied to see if they might make the illness less severe. The president also said the disease would go away in the spring. Dr. Fauci said maybe so, but because it was caused by a new virus, there was no way to tell.

Experts like Dr. Fauci should be the ones who speak to the public during epidemics, said Representative Donna E. Shalala of Florida, who was his boss during the Clinton administration, when she led the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I think Tony is playing the same exact role that he has in the past — to make sure the science is accurate and clear,” Ms. Shalala said. “During a health emergency, it’s the scientists and physicians that are the credible people to the American public, not politicians.”..

If Dr. Fauci has become the explainer-in-chief of the coronavirus epidemic, it is in part because other government scientists have left a vacuum, avoiding the news media spotlight or being reined in by the Trump administration and accused of exaggerating the threat from the virus. When reporters call Dr. Fauci, he calls them back…

 “There are a lot of world class scientists, but Tony has a special set of skills,” Ms. Shalala said. “An ability to communicate, high integrity and an understanding of politics — and to know to stay out of politics in order to protect scientists.” (D)

“On Wednesday, March 11, top public health officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the government response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19…

His testimony laid out a stark, sobering picture of what the United States faces in the coming weeks and months. Here are the important exchanges, with bolding to highlight key points:

“Getting it into phase one in a matter of months is the quickest that anyone has ever done literally in the history of vaccinology. But the process of developing a vaccine is one that is not that quick. It will bring us three or four months down the pike and then you go into an important phase called phase two to determine if it works,” he continued. “That will take at least another eight months or so.”…

“Whenever you look at the history of outbreaks, what you see now in an uncontained way, and although we are containing it in some respects, we keep getting people coming in from the country that are travel-related. we’ve seen that in many of the states that are now involved. and then when you get community spread, it makes the challenge much greater. So I can say we will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now. How much worse we’ll get will depend on our ability to do two things, to contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country. Bottom line, it’s going to get worse.”…

“I appreciate your comments, but I can tell you absolutely that I tell the president, the vice president and everyone on the task force what exactly the scientific data is and what the evidence is.”…”I have never, ever held back telling exactly what is going on from a public health standpoint….

“If we don’t do very serious mitigation now, that what’s going to happen is that we’re going to be weeks behind and the horse is going to be out of the barn. And that’s the reason we’ve been saying, even in areas of the country where there are no or few cases, we’ve got to change our behavior. We have to essentially assume that we are going to get hit. And that’s why we talk about making mitigation and containment in a much more vigorous way. People ask, why would you want to make any mitigation? We don’t have any cases. That’s when you do it. Because we want this curve to be this, and it’s not going to do that unless we act now.” (E)

America has failed to meet the capacity for coronavirus testing that it needs, a top public health official acknowledged Thursday.

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a House hearing about coronavirus test kits in the United States, which were initially dogged by technical glitches. “That is a failing. Let’s admit it.”..

When the virus first started appearing in America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had narrow criteria for who could be tested for it, further limiting the number of tests performed on top of the technical problems. Those guidelines have since been expanded. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, who was also testifying in the hearing, directed Wasserman Schultz’s question to Fauci.

“The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that,” …”Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not.”..

The blunt acknowledgment came as the CDC reported it had tested just over 11,000 specimens for the virus so far, far fewer than other nations, especially given that multiple specimens are needed for each patient. Meanwhile, South Korea is testing nearly 20,000 patients per day, according to the BBC.” (F)

“But now that the public-health response is underway, is the president’s 2018 decision having a practical effect? Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was unexpectedly candid on this point today.

In fact, Dr. Fauci took some of his most direct swipes at the White House since the outbreak began. When [Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly] asked him about the 2018 eradication of the global health unit on the White House’s National Security Council, he answered, “It would be nice if the office was still there.”

The NIH leader added, “We worked very well with that office.”

Remember, Trump has struggled to explain why, exactly, he disbanded the global health security unit. As we talked about the other day, the president originally argued, “I’m a businessperson. I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When we need them, we can get them back very quickly.”

As it turns out, the administration cannot actually reassemble such a team “very quickly,” though Trump, still unfamiliar with how much of the executive branch works, may not have known that.

His second explanation was even less persuasive. “You can never really think is going to happen,” the president said on Friday, adding, “Who would have thought? Look, how long ago is it? Six, seven, eight weeks ago — who would have thought we would even be having the subject? … You never really know when something like this is going to strike and what it’s going to be.”…

And now it sounds as if Anthony Fauci would’ve preferred if Team Trump had left Team Obama’s model intact.” (G)

“As of today, March 13, 2020—three-plus years into the current administration, three months into public awareness of the coronavirus spread, seven-plus months until before the next election—Anthony Fauci is playing a role in which no previous Trump-era figure has survived.

One other person has been in the spot Fauci now occupies. That is, of course, James Mattis, the retired four-star Marine Corps general and former secretary of defense for Trump. Former is the key word here, and the question is whether the change in circumstances between Mattis’s time and Fauci’s—the public nature of this emergency, the greater proximity of upcoming elections, the apparent verdict from financial markets and both international and domestic leaders that Donald Trump is in deep over his head—will give Fauci the greater leverage he needs, not just to stay at work but also to steer policy away from the abyss.

Why is Anthony Fauci now, even more than James Mattis before him, in a different position from any other publicly visible associate of Trump’s?

Pre-Trump credibility, connections, and respect. Fauci has been head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the National Institutes of Health, since Ronald Reagan’s first term, in 1984. (How can he have held the post so long? Although nothing in his look or bearing would suggest it, Fauci is older than either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. He recently turned 79.)

Through his long tenure at NIH, which spanned the early days of the HIV/AIDS devastation and later experience with the SARS and H1N1 epidemics, Fauci has become a very familiar “public face of science,” explaining at congressional hearings and in TV and radio interviews how Americans should think about the latest threat. He has managed to stay apart from any era’s partisan-political death struggles. He has received a raft of scientific and civic honors, from the Lasker Award for health leadership, to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by George W. Bush.

Thus, in contrast to virtually all the other figures with whom Trump has surrounded himself, Fauci is by any objective standard the best person for the job — and is universally seen as such. This distinguishes him from people Trump has favored in his own coterie, from longtime consigliere Michael Cohen to longtime ally Roger Stone to longtime personal physician Harold Bornstein; and from past and present members of his White House staff, like the departed Michael Flynn and the returned Hope Hicks and the sempiternal Jared Kushner; and fish-out-of-water Cabinet appointees, like (to pick one) the neurosurgeon Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Put another way: Very plainly, Trump needs Fauci more than Fauci needs Trump. This is not a position Donald Trump has ever felt comfortable in— witness the denouement with Mattis.” (H)

“Now that President Trump has made Vice President Pence the US’ coronavirus czar, Fauci has to run interviews by Pence’s office for clearance.

Some of Fauci’s statements about the virus have been at odds with claims from President Trump.

US public-health experts and politicians have been angry that Fauci appeared to be sidelined. One said his silence “is a threat to public health and safety.”…

But after President Donald Trump made Vice President Mike Pence the US’ coronavirus czar, Fauci and other top health officials were reportedly told “not to say anything else without clearance” from the White House, according to The New York Times.

Fauci told Politico Friday that he has not been muzzled, but that he does have to clear interviews with Pence’s office…

US health experts and politicians were angry about the possibility that the White House would restrict Fauci’s speech, the Times reported.

“Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama trusted Tony Fauci to be their top adviser on infectious disease, and the nation’s most trusted communicator to the public,” Ronald Klain, who led the Obama administration’s response to the 2014 Ebola crisis, tweeted on Thursday.” (I)

The disruption to everyday life in America caused by the coronavirus pandemic is the most severe Dr. Anthony Fauci has seen in the 36 years he’s been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. While there have been “an awful lot of challenges,” this situation is different because of all the “unknowns” surrounding the virus, he said.

“With regard to disruption of everyday life, we have not seen that before, but we’ve not had this kind of a situation before,” he said on “CBS This Morning” Friday. “I mean, we’ve had pandemics. The 2009 H1N1 swine flu was a pandemic, but it was influenza. We were familiar with what influenza does, familiar with its seasonal capability. Right now, there are a lot of unknowns.”…

Fauci also said even without widespread testing, mitigation measures should be taken to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“The kinds of things you’re hearing about which we call social distancing, which means staying away from crowds, doing teleworking, where appropriate, closing schools, canceling events that bring many, many people together. You can do that right now,” he said. “Obviously we want to and will have considerably more testing in the future, but you don’t wait for testing to do the mitigation. You can do it right now.” (J)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead scientists behind the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, said Friday that disruptions to everyday life in the U.S. could last up to eight weeks…

 “I mean it’s unpredictable but if you look at historically, how these things work, it’ll likely be anywhere from a few weeks up to eight weeks or more,” he said, adding that he hopes it’s going to be only two, three or four weeks.

“It’s really impossible to make an accurate prediction,” he said.

But there have been barriers for doctors to conduct coronavirus tests. The current system in place is “failing,” Fauci said at a Congressional committee hearing Thursday. It “is not really geared to what we need right now,” he said.

“That is being rapidly corrected,” he said on “CBS This Morning.” “We had a task force meeting yesterday, and we heard that the kinds of tests from the commercial sector that would be readily available is really very, very close right now. Very close.”

Fauci said restrictions on who can be tested “have been lifted” by the Food and Drug Administration, and he hopes by next week, “If you go in, there’s a good reason for you to get it, you’re going to get a test.”

“It’s going to be graded. It’s not going to all happen tomorrow or the next day,” he cautioned.

Fauci also said even without widespread testing, mitigation measures should be taken to slow the spread of coronavirus.

So-called social distancing measures are crucial to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring that hospitals are not overwhelmed by an influx of patients.

By spreading the outbreak out over a longer period of time, public health officials can have more time to prepare, get more resources and equipment, and ensure that everyone who needs medical care is able to get it….

Asked if the U.S. is heading toward a gradual shutdown, Fauci replied: “I’m not sure we’re going to get to that. I think that would be really rather dramatic, but I can tell you that all things are on the table. We just have to respond as things evolve over the days and over the weeks.” (K)

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