White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday that he is frustrated Americans aren’t following recommended health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Clearly, we have not succeeded in getting the public as a whole uniformly to respond in a way that is a sound scientific, public health and medical situation,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy. “And it’s unfortunate. And it’s frustrating.”
The comments by Fauci came after coronavirus outbreaks in several states worsened this week. On Thursday, Arizona, Florida, California, South Carolina and Texas all set new records in daily cases of Covid-19. The virus has now sickened more than 2.1 million Americans and killed at least 118,435 since the first U.S. case was confirmed less than five months ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
It also comes as President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is expected to bring in thousands of people. The campaign is doing temperature checks and providing attendees with masks and hand sanitizer upon entry, but public health officials worry the event still isn’t safe.
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made similar comments earlier this month to members of Congress.
He told the House Appropriations Committee on June 4 that he’s “very concerned” the agency’s public health message on the coronavirus isn’t “resonating” with the public as the number of cases continues to rise across the U.S.
He noted the crowds of people seen in recent weeks at protests, over the Memorial Day holiday and at the SpaceX launch. Some were seen without masks.
The CDC recommends that people wear masks as a way to slow the spread of the virus. Scientists say the virus can spread through respiratory droplets that pass when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Studies suggest the masks may serve as a helpful barrier.
Earlier this month, Fauci said the virus turned out to be his “worst nightmare.”
Fauci said on June 9 that the virus is “very different” from other outbreaks such as Ebola and HIV. The virus jumped from an animal host and has a high degree of transmissibility and mortality, he said. It is historically one of the worst pandemics the world has ever experienced, he said, adding people have compared it to the 1918 flu.
“I mean, Ebola was scary. But Ebola would never be easily transmitted in a global way,” he said. “HIV, as important as it is, was drawn out over an extended period of time. I mean, I think the ultimate impact of AIDS almost certainly will be greater than anything we’re talking about now.”
But he added, the coronavirus just “took over the planet.”