Dr. Fauci Says New York's Coronavirus Response Has Been 'Extraordinarily Powerful,' Admissions Are Starting to Level Off Due to Mitigation

The scientific expert at the heart of the White House coronavirus task force has taken hope from the "leveling off" of patients entering hospitals, and has rejected suggestions that there is conflict between him and President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dr. Anthony Fauci said at times he felt "overwhelming" stress in dealing with the daily deluge of emails and phone calls from media, senators, and congressmen, and admitted he sometimes sleeps as little as two hours a night.

Media analysts have noted the differences between his sober assessments of the scale of the COVID-19 crisis at White House press briefings with the initially upbeat views of the president who once said that he hoped the U.S. would reopen by Easter. Since then, confronted with projections that the death toll could reach the millions, Trump extended social distancing guidelines through April.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at the White House on March 31, 2020. Win McNamee/Getty Images

But Fauci told the magazine that he has "no ideology" and sticks "strictly to the science." He describes Trump, with whom he spends more than an hour each day, as an "action person" who "likes to get things done" and insists that the president does listen to what he says.

"I take the tack that I will say what's true and whatever happens, happens. As a matter of fact, in fairness to him, the president has listened very carefully to what I've said.

"He's taken my recommendations almost invariably, and he has never really contradicted things that I have recommended to him. He listens. I mean, there's a lot out there in the press about conflict between the both of us. There's absolutely none. There really isn't."

Fauci praised the COVID-19 response in New York where the death toll by Wednesday had hit more than 1,000. He said the city "has been hit particularly hard and they've suffered greatly. They've responded, I think in an extraordinarily powerful way.

"We hope — we don't know for sure — that we're starting to see the leveling off of new admissions to hospitals. That's the first sign that we may be making some headway with our mitigation strategies."

Complicating matters in his view, was how cities like New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago, were at different stages of the outbreak, and that "you will see different waves of increases, sharp inflections, peaks, and then turn arounds.

"I think the most important thing that we need to do as a nation is to very aggressively implement the mitigation strategies," he said. "Some governors and states followed the guidelines most times, but sometimes they didn't. And I think in those situations in which they didn't, you could have avoided difficulties.

"But right now, there's no doubt that even though it's difficult to quantify precisely, there's no doubt that the mitigation implementation is having an impact," he said, praising the decision to extend the separation guidelines by another 30 days because "we are by no means out of the woods."

When asked whether there could be a second wave of the coronavirus when the restrictions are lifted, similar to what happened with the Spanish flu more than a century ago, Fauci told Vanity Fair that it was "highly likely" that "we will have a return of infections as we get into the next season."

"I believe given the fact that we'll be much, much better prepared, there will be a number of people who have already been infected so that they will be immune.

"The second iteration of this will very likely be much less severe. That's for a number of reasons. So I don't see this coming back and hitting us the way it hit us the first time around," he said.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.