The White House’s worsening coronavirus outbreak could have been prevented, Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said Tuesday.
During a virtual discussion hosted by American University’s Kennedy Political Union, Fauci was asked for his advice to students whose relatives have been reluctant to listen to public health experts. “That’s a tough one,” he acknowledged before suggesting that they “take a look at what happened this week at the White House” if they need concrete evidence that the virus is not a hoax.
“It’s an unfortunate situation when you see something like that, because that could have been prevented,” Fauci said.
While Fauci did not get the opportunity to elaborate on how the spate of infections could have been averted, he has consistently emphasized the seriousness of the novel coronavirus as President Trump seeks to downplay it. In Tuesday’s discussion, he expressed anguish that the country has not uniformly gotten behind measures like masks, social distancing, avoiding large crowds and sticking to outdoor activities.
“It’s so frustrating because it’s not rocket science,” Fauci said. “You don’t need to lock down.”
If those precautions are not taken during the fall and winter months, the U.S. death toll from the pandemic could grow to “300,000 to 400,000” fatalities, nearly double the current count, Fauci warned.
Though he did not reference Trump directly, Fauci also said the pandemic had demonstrated the risks of “divisiveness and rancor and politicization” when it comes to communicating crucial public health messages.