Anthony Fauci, Face of U.S. Coronavirus Response, Given Increased Security After Receiving Threats: Report

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a luminary member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, has been assigned a security detail amid "growing threats to his personal safety" from overzealous fans and haters, according to unnamed sources in The Washington Post.

Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), began worrying about Fauci's safety as the doctor's public profile rose, according to sources familiar with the situation who spoke anonymously because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the potentially sensitive security plans.

Once a regular fixture of the White House's daily coronavirus briefings, Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gained notoriety for publicly contradicting the president's assertions including Trump's assertion that anti-malarial drugs can possibly treat coronavirus.

Since then, admirers have publicly approached Fauci, offering praise and requesting his autograph. He has also become a target of suspicion on right-wing websites such as The American Thinker which referred to him as a "deep-state ­Hillary Clinton-loving stooge" and The Gateway Pundit which accused him of trying "to destroy the U.S. economy based on total guesses and hysterical predictions."

 Dr. Anthony Fauci
National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, attends a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump about the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic at the White House March 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty

Sources say that HHS requested the U.S. Marshals Service to provide protective service agents for the doctor. The U.S. Marshals Service then communicated the request to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen, adding a recommendation for its approval. A Justice Department official approving the request by signing the official paperwork on Tuesday, effectively authorizing the HHS to give Fauci his own security detail.

An HHS spokesperson refused to discuss any details related to Dr. Fauci's security detail.

When reporters asked Fauci on Wednesday about receiving a personal security detail, Fauci replied, "I would have to refer you to HHS on that. I wouldn't comment." The president added, "He doesn't need security. Everybody loves him."

Newsweek has reached out to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for additional information about the director's public profile and appearances since becoming a member of Trump's coronavirus task force. NIAID didn't respond by the time of publication.

When asked about his public disagreements with the president's statements about coronavirus, Fauci said Trump's statements are sometimes "expressed in a way that I would not express it, because it could lead to some misunderstanding," adding "I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time."

Fauci also said, "[On] substantive issues, he does listen to what I say."