Opinion | Listen to Fauci

The United States is still a hotspot for the coronavirus – if that’s going to be fixed, we need to listen to expert opinion.

Director+of+the+National+Institute+of+Allergy+and+Infectious+Diseases+Dr.+Anthony+Fauci++participates+with+U.S.+President+Donald+Trump+in+a+roundtable+on+donating+plasma+at+the+American+Red+Cross+National+Headquarters+in+Washington+on+July+30%2C+2020.

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Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci participates with U.S. President Donald Trump in a roundtable on donating plasma at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington on July 30, 2020.

Chloe Peterson, Opinions Columnist


Although many countries have managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, cases in the United States are still rising every day. Out of a total of 16.5 million COVID-19 cases around the globe, the United States fosters over quarter of them — around 4.3 million.

The United States is unmistakably the hotspot for cases around the world. And even though thousands of people are dying every day, both the Trump administration and the American people are refusing to follow guidelines set by infectious disease experts.

Although it shouldn’t be, trusting the experts is highly political: according to a July poll by YouGov/The Economist, Democrats are much more likely to trust Dr. Anthony Fauci, with 68 percent of Democrats trusting his medical advice compared to 38 percent of Republicans.

The poll numbers for the Republicans have plummeted in comparison to an earlier poll by the same source. In March of 2020, 56 percent of Republicans said that they trusted Dr. Fauci’s medical advice. The decrease in percentage came after President Trump essentially cut Dr. Fauci out of the White House, refusing to be briefed by him or letting Fauci come to coronavirus task force briefings.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. He has advised six presidents on different diseases, including HIV/AIDs, respiratory infections, and new outbreaks like Ebola and the Zika virus. He is arguably the most qualified person in the United States to listen to about a major pandemic.

But lately, President Trump and other Republicans have pushed back on Dr. Fauci’s cautious plans. Trump called Fauci ‘a little bit of an alarmist’ when it comes to the pandemic, even though cases and deaths are still on the rise. Trump also said that Fauci has ‘been wrong about some things,’ including at the beginning of the pandemic when Fauci advised against wearing masks, a statement he made due the national shortage of PPE.

The COVID-19 pandemic is something no one has ever seen before in modern history. The last time that there was a global health crisis of this size was the 1918 flu.  At the beginning of the outbreak, nobody, not even the top infectious disease experts, knew a lot about how it spread or many of the symptoms.

At the time, with the information that he had, Fauci did not believe that it was necessary to wear masks. Now, with more research and more information on how the virus spreads, he has gone back on that opinion and started encouraging the public to wear them.

On July 21, Trump held a coronavirus briefing with the media for the first time since April, but neither Dr. Fauci or other top infectious disease expert Dr. Deborah Birx was in the briefing room. Fauci even told CBS that he was not told that a briefing was happening.

No president can know everything about everything going on in the country. That is why presidents have advisors and experts that inform them on different issues. Especially now, when no modern president in history has had to deal with a pandemic of this caliber.

If the United States wants to get out of this pandemic and get back to normal life, citizens need to drop the politics and listen to the experts on infectious diseases.


Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


 

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