Anthony Fauci has told all states it’s time to stop allowing any exemptions to social-distancing guidelines, and warned that forcing people to stay home across the nation is the “only thing we have” in the federal government’s arsenal to fight back against the coronavirus pandemic.
Appearing on NBC’s Today show on Thursday morning, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stopped just short of telling President Donald Trump to order a national stay-at-home order at the federal level, saying states are still able to make their own rules.
But, asked about state-level exemptions to distancing rules—such as some religious services in Florida, florists in New Hampshire, and hair salons and golf courses in Arizona—Fauci responded, “When you see things like some of those exemptions—I can’t make any official proclamations here—but I can say [to] really seriously consider [if] those exemptions [are] appropriate when you think about what’s going on. I urge people at the leadership at the state level to really take a close look at those kinds of decisions.”
Fauci went on to urge people to stick to the rules, saying, “I know it’s difficult, but we’re having a lot of suffering, a lot of death. This is inconvenient from an economic and a personal standpoint, but we just have to do it. That is our major weapon against this virus right now. We don’t have a vaccine that’s deployable. This is the only thing we have.”
Asked specifically by host Savannah Guthrie if it was time for Trump to tell all American citizens to stay at home via a federal order, Fauci responded, “You have a point there, Savannah. It’s one of those things that in our country there still is that issue of central government versus the ability and the right of a state to make their own decision.”
Fauci was also asked about reports that threats against him have prompted the federal government to assign extra security personnel to him. Right-wing commentators have fixated on Fauci for repeatedly deviating from the President Trump’s party line on the virus, which has reportedly led to threats as well as all the praise and adulation he’s also received.
Asked if he felt safe, he told Today, “I’ve chosen this life, I know what it is, there are things about it that sometimes are disturbing. But you just focus on the job you have to do and just put all that other stuff aside and try as best as possible not to pay attention to it. We have a really, really, very, very difficult situation ahead of us. All that other stuff is secondary.”