WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a Tuesday radio interview he had not talked with President Donald Trump in two weeks.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NPR’s “1A,” which is produced out of WAMU in Washington, D.C., that the last time he talked to Trump was “two weeks ago” and it was about “vaccine development efforts.”
The coronavirus task force has appeared in public less frequently as the Trump administration has shifted its focus to reopening the economy after safer-at-home orders were implemented to limit the spread of the virus.
Asked if any states had reopened too soon, Fauci said he would not say some states had reopened “too soon” but “certainly before they got to the benchmarks they needed to get.” The increase in cases in some states, Fauci said, was likely due to people who are “not really adhering to the structured type of guidelines that belong to the phase that they’re in.”
What was disconcerting to him and other public health professionals, Fauci said, was a perception among people that restrictions were “all or none.”
“It isn’t as if you stay locked down or you open up and leave caution to the wind,” he said.
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He said a second wave of the virus, though, was “not inevitable” if “we do what we need to do to prevent it from happening.”
Any reopening, Fauci said, had to be in the “context of careful, prudent reopening, namely having at your capability, the ability to be able to identify, isolate and contact trace so that when you see the inevitable blips, in cases, that those blips don’t become surges, and those surges don’t become a second wave.”
But Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the coronavirus task force, argued the opposite in a Tuesday Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave,’” saying panic over a “second wave” is “overblown.”
Fauci discussed a wide range of issues relating to the coronavirus in the radio interview and also took questions submitted by listeners.
Addressing the nationwide protests that have erupted against police brutality and racial discrimination, Fauci said he understood why people were protesting, but “the demonstrations itself, you must realize are actually putting you and others at risk” because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The “best thing” to do, Fauci explained, is “don’t gather in crowds.”
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If people do decide to attend a protest, Fauci recommended wearing masks and keeping them on to help limit the spread of the virus, noting his concern at videos of protesters taking their masks off to shout.
The coronavirus death toll exceeds 116,000 in the United States, according to statistics compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
“We are nowhere near herd immunity,” Fauci said in response to an audience question about the threshold at which enough people have been infected or recovered to protect more vulnerable people against infection. “The bottom line is, you’ve got to protect yourself.”
Asked about the possibility of a vaccine, Fauci said there was “good movement” towards a vaccine and the speed in its development was “not at the expense of safety.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Fauci says he hasn’t talked to Trump in two weeks