Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, blamed America’s tradition of individualism and independence for making the COVID-19 pandemic much worse.
Speaking with The Washington Post this week, Fauci said that “independent spirit in the United States of people not wanting to comply with public health measures has certainly hurt us a bit.”
“There are people in various parts of the country who still believe that [coronavirus] is a hoax, that it’s fake — even when in their own state the hospitals have been overrun with patients in the hospital beds and in the intensive care unit,” Fauci lamented.
Fauci’s comments echo what he said in early November, admonishing Americans for not doing what the government tells them to do.
“I was talking with my U.K. colleagues who are saying the U.K. is similar to where we are now, because each of our countries have that independent spirit,” he said at the Washington National Cathedral. “I can understand that, but now is the time to do what you’re told.”
In the same interview with The Washington Post, Fauci advised Americans to cancel Christmas, noting that he and his wife would not be hosting their daughters this year.
“They are not going to come home … That’s painful. We don’t like that,” he said. “But that’s just one of the things you’re going to have to accept as we go through this unprecedented challenging time.”
Fauci simply advised people to look forward to future Christmases.
“You try to explain: you’re going to have many more Christmases ahead of you. You’ve enjoyed many more Christmases before. Maybe this is a time to just say, ‘This is an unusual situation, it’s not going to last forever,’” he said.
“So make the choice and keep yourself and your family healthy so that you’ll have many more Christmases ahead of you,” he added. “That’s the way I would try to reason with them.”
Fauci was recently included among PEOPLE magazine’s “People of the Year” list where he was praised for being the “doctor America needed in 2020.”
“Dr. Anthony Fauci stepped up to be the doctor America needed in 2020, providing steady guidance during the pandemic,” said PEOPLE. “Even though he and his family were getting death threats, he continued to be out front, reassuring us during turbulent times with his devoted public service, unflappable common sense, and life-saving leadership.”
“A hard year? Yes. But we’re coming out stronger,” the magazine added.
Fauci told PEOPLE that he stayed focus during the pandemic by grabbing himself by the “bootstraps” and just doing it.
“You stay focused because you just do it. You dig deep, you grab yourself by the bootstraps and you say you’ve got to do it,” he said. “There’s no other alternative because if you don’t do it you’re going to fail, and failure isn’t an option. So there’s no room at all to get distracted, and there’s no room at all to give up. You just have to keep going.”
Fauci also lamented how the “divisiveness” among Americans “makes it much more difficult to address a public health outbreak.”
“When you have an outbreak, everyone needs to pull together because everyone is in it together. When you have obvious sharp differences, politically and otherwise, that gets in the way of a unified response,” he said. “I mean I’ve been doing this for 36 years as director of the institute. I’ve seen disagreements. I’ve seen political issues get in the way over the 36 years, but I’ve never seen the extent of the divisiveness which leads to hostility against public health measures.”