BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (News Nation/WIAT) — With coronavirus cases increasing nationwide and epicenters shifting, President Trump announced Monday his plans to revive regular White House coronavirus briefings.
Dr. Anthony Fauci was not in attendance for Trump’s remarks Monday but noted that Dr. Deborah Birx was outside the briefing room.
In a Tuesday interview with News Nation affiliate WIAT, Fauci said he “has not heard anything definitive” about his presence in President Trump’s return to the podium. Despite remaining in the dark on this matter, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said he is unswayed in his commitment to his role on the task force.
“Certainly you’ve put aside even considering resigning from the task force, right?” WIAT anchor Art Franklin asked Fauci.
“Oh definitely, I’m not even thinking about that,” Fauci replied.
In an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Trump defended his relationship with Fauci but criticized the doctor’s public response to COVID-19, calling him “a little bit of an alarmist” who has “made some mistakes.”
According to the Johns Hopkins Mortality Analyses, the U.S is currently third in terms of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000, behind Chile and the U.K.
“You and I, along with most health officials and experts, have been saying to the public… wear a mask, keep social distance, yet there are many who don’t. Why is that you think we’re having such trouble, and what can we do about it?” Fauci was asked.
Addressing some individual’s resistance to wearing a mask, Fauci said it’s “very disconcerting” to see people pushing back on health guidelines.
“They seem to be forgetting that this is about public health; it’s not about authority,” Fauci said.
Hospitals in various regions of the country are inundated with COVID-19 patients. Forty-nine hospitals in Florida have no more ICU beds. Some hospitals in Texas, Arizona and California are experiencing the same problem.
“Right now what we need to do is call a time-out,” Fauci advised. “I don’t think we all need to go back to lock down. We need to pause and even take a step or a step and a half backward. We still want to reopen, but let’s do it in a prudent way.”
It appears the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may also be considering a step back in regards to the reopening of schools. Last week, the CDC was expected to release school reopening guidance, which has since been delayed until the end of the month. With the Trump administration pushing heavily for the reopening of schools, Fauci says it is a “high priority.”
“We all want to open the schools…We will try as best as we can to keep the schools open,” Fauci said. “We’ve got to remember that paramount to all of this is the safety and the health of the children and of the teachers.”
While dilemmas with gatherings will undoubtedly persist through the start of the school year, Fauci is optimistic about multiple vaccine candidates. With promising results from vaccines undergoing human trials, most notably the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, Fauci says he’s “heartened by what [he’s] seeing” but won’t comment on a specific time frame.
“Obviously we need to do more studies with more people,” Fauci explained. “More than one candidate appears to be inducing the kinds of responses that favorably might produce a degree of optimism about whether or not they’re going to be able to block infection.”
Editor’s post-publication note: Pres. Trump held a solo coronavirus briefing on Tuesday. When asked by the media where Dr. Birx and Dr. Facui were, he replied that Dr. Birx was right outside the briefing room.