After President Trump's positive coronavirus test, and an outbreak of new infections at the White House, it was only a matter of time before Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, weighed in.
After all, it is his job to make sure that what's going down in the White House right now doesn't happen elsewhere in the country.
Here's Fauci on Trump's Covid-19 case, the new infections among White House staff, and a dangerous comparison between Covid-19 and the flu. There's also some good news: Fauci praised a nation that was rampaged by Covid-19, but has since bounced back using a technique that United States officials haven't even attempted.
As a public service, Inverse is aggregating Fauci's comments regularly in the "Fauci Dispatch" series, as the White House has severely limited his visibility to the public.
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from October 1, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from September 23, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from September 16, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from September 2, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from August 26, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from August 19, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from August 13, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from August 5, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from July 29, 2020 here
- Read the Fauci Dispatch from July 22, 2020 here
Fauci on Trump's Covid-19 case – Speaking to CNN's Chris Cuomo, Fauci commented on the course of Trump's Covid-19 case.
"He looks fine as you can see the way he looked when he came out of the hospital," he said.
Fauci added that, if you look at the clinical course of other Covid-19 cases, a "reversal" was still possible (though unlikely).
The backdrop – Trump's positive coronavirus case was announced early last Friday morning. By the evening, he was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center for a more thorough evaluation. At the center, the President was treated with an experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail still in clinical trials, remdesivir, and dexamethasone
The treatment course led to speculation that the President's illness was severe (dexamethasone is reserved for use for extremely ill patients). But by Monday, the President was back in the White House. The President's physician Sean Conley said that he had met or exceeded all the criteria needed to be discharged from the hospital.
Trump may not entirely be out of the woods, as Fauci pointed out. Very few details have been released about the President's condition, making it nearly impossible to speculate about his current status. Fauci told Cuomo that "five to eight days in" there is sometimes a reversal in patients.
That's why the president will continue to be monitored, especially for signs that his immune system is fighting the virus off in an uncontrolled way. A runaway immune response is what causes severe disease in some patients.
Fauci on new infections among White House Staff – Speaking to American University’s Kennedy Political Union, Fauci commented on a recent surge of coronavirus cases at the White House. As of publishing that includes members of Trump's inner circle, press aides, members of housekeeping staff, members of Congress, and journalists covering the White House.
"It’s an unfortunate situation when you see something like that because that could have been prevented," he said.
The backdrop – The outbreaks at the White House have emphasized how quickly the coronavirus can spread when protocols like mask-wearing and physical distancing are ignored.
In Washington D.C., there's a mask order requiring masks to be worn outside the home, as well as in common spaces. The order also says that mask-wearing is mandatory when people "are likely to come into contact with another person, such as being within six feet of another person for more than a fleeting time."
This hasn't happened within the confines of the White House and its grounds. The most recent example: a Rose Garden Ceremony held on September 26 for supreme court nominee Amy Cohen Barrett. Photos of the event show about 200 guests sitting side-by-side and few participants were wearing masks.
The ceremony was held outside, where the coronavirus is less likely to spread. However, at least 11 people who attended that event have tested positive so far.
Fauci on the comparison between Covid-19 and the flu – Fresh off of his return to the White House from Walter Reed, President Trump tweeted a fresh comparison between Covid-19 and the flu. This is a myth experts have routinely debunked.
The President tweeted that the flu is "far less lethal" than Covid-19 in "most populations." Twitter soon removed the tweet, as it contained incorrect and potentially harmful misinformation. Speaking to NBC News Fauci emphasized how different the flu and Covid-19 are:
"It has some overlapping symptomatology early on. But flu doesn't do the things to you that Covid-19 can."
The backdrop – Far more people have died from Covid-19 than have died from the flu, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, about eight percent of the population gets sick with the flu each year. Meanwhile, the CDC estimates that the flu has caused between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths per year since 2010.
That doesn't even take into account the effect Covid-19 has on other systems in the body, from the heart to the gut to the brain. As this is a brand-new illness, scientists are also examining the long-term effects of Covid-19, from lasting damage to the heart to the strange experiences of Covid-19 long haulers, who struggle with the illness for months without a return to normalcy.
Fauci on a Covid-19 comeback story – Speaking to the President of the Navajo Nation on Monday, Fauci acknowledged Nation's effort to fight coronavirus. Their approach looks very different from the course the United States has taken so far.
"I believe if the rest of the country looks at the model that the Navajo Nation has shown then you can turn things around," he said. "I did not fully appreciate how well you had done."
The backdrop – The Navajo Nation, which spans part of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, has a population of about 173,000. But the death rate in June was about 177 people per 100,000, which as The Guardian reported, made it the single highest death rate of any U.S. state.
The Navajo responded with one of the strictest lockdowns the country has seen. As Arizona loosened restrictions over the summer, the Navajo implemented mandatory mask-wearing policies and began a series of 57-hour weekend shutdowns that only permitted essential travel. The Navajo have continued to impose weekend lockdowns when coronavirus cases spike and relax them when the wane.
It's an extreme approach, but then again, Covid-19 is an extreme disease.