Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed the politicization of Covid-19 and public health measures during an interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show Monday, September 21st.
Fauci began by acknowledging the way the federal government’s coronavirus messaging tactics have shifted, and how he went from being a daily presence at press briefings to someone who’s called in occasionally to address the public. But as the virus has continued to spread, and the death toll to rise, Noah noted that the United States still doesn’t have a centralized source of Covid-19 information, with contradicting messages coming from places like the CDC and the Trump administration.
“One of the things that I think gets in the way, is we are in such a divisive state in society, that it tends to get politicized,” Fauci said. “Everybody feels we need to open the economy — to get people back to work, to get people back to school — but the public health messages that we’ve given, and that you’ve heard me give back months ago… is that public health measures should be more of a gateway and a pathway to opening the country as opposed to the obstacle to opening the country. So what has evolved now is that, almost, people take sides, like wearing a mask or not is a political statement, and that’s really very unfortunate, totally unfortunate, because this is a purely public health issue. It should not be one against the other.”
Fauci added that it’s impossible to get out a single message when “messages get thrown into political buckets.” He also pushed back on criticisms he’s faced, declaring: “I’ve never had any political ideology that I’ve made public. I’m really just talking to you about public health. When I’m telling you, wear a mask, keep social distancing, avoid crowds, wash your hands, do things outdoors more than indoors — there’s nothing political about that.”
Fauci and Noah went on to discuss what the next few months may hold for the coronavirus pandemic, and how Fauci would like to see baseline infection rates decline even more ahead of a potential late-fall/winter spike. At the end of the interview, Noah put Fauci through a round of rapid-fire questions about proper mask etiquette while riding a bike, at a restaurant, at the movies and more.