Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” program this Sunday for an interview with Jake Tapper, in which he stated that another round of mask mandates in “under active consideration.” In referring to the recent rise in cases across the country, Dr. Fauci said that the U.S. is “going in the wrong direction.” He went on to state:
“If you look at the inflection of the curve of new cases and, as you said in the run-in to this interview, it is among the unvaccinated. And since we have 50% of the country not fully vaccinated, that’s a problem.”CNN, State of the Union with Jake Tapper, July 25, 2021 – video available here
Dr. Fauci made a similar statement to NBC’s Lester Holt last week, framing new mask mandates as an “extra step” that is available to local authorities “in their discretion.”
These statements from Dr. Fauci come on the heals of ramped-up rhetoric from the CDC over the past few weeks, specifically from that agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky who warned of a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” on July 16. Walensky went on to state, “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”
At the same time, Dr. Fauci has been fending off Republican charges of deceiving the public with regard to gain-of-function research funding provided to the Wuhan Institute of Virology indirectly through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Fauci found himself in a heated exchange with Republican Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) at a congressional hearing on July 20, in which Dr. Fauci maintained his position that no such funding was provided, despite Senator Paul’s offering an opportunity for him to back-peddle, “Dr. Fauci knowing that it is a crime to lie to Congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11 where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain-of-function research in Wuhan?”
Criticism of the high-profile doctor has begun to spread across the political aisle recently. Washington Post reporter Josh Rogin surprised many when he sided with Sen. Paul after the above-referenced exchange, tweeting:
In response to Fauci’s latest statement about a possible new mask mandate, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that a new mandate would cause people to develop a lack of confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and would question why both should be required.
With criticism beginning to mount on the left, in addition to the steady drum-beat of accusations on the right, many are wondering if the recent talk of a new mask mandate is a science-based public health measure or perhaps more of a political diversion to refocus left-wing media attention back onto the collective boogeyman of “the unvaccinated.”