Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, feels frustrated when having to talk about individual freedoms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” on Friday, Fauci said that he puts a “higher priority” on public safety and health, arguing that personal freedoms should take a backseat to the number of people who have died from the virus.
“Does it shock you, frustrate you, how do you feel when you are peppered with questions about, you know, restrictions and freedoms — and the dead, the 560,000 dead are not mentioned?” Reid asked Fauci.
“Well, it’s very frustrating, because, you know, as a public health official, I’m very much aware of this issue of COVID-19 fatigue, about people really being worn down and tired of the kinds of restrictions that we have when we do public health guidelines,” he said.
Fauci was responding to an intense line of questioning from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that asked Fauci to specifically state when Americans will get their 1st Amendment rights back. During the heated exchange, Fauci continued to press the point that he was more concerned with public safety.
“Congressman Jordan mentioned the people of Ohio,” Fauci told Reid. “I care very much for the people of Ohio. I don’t want to see them get sick or die, because we have 560,000 Americans that have died so far. So, we’re looking at it from different perspectives. I’m looking at it from a public health perspective, and he was talking about the infringement upon liberties. Right now, what we need to do is get this pandemic behind us. And we will do that, and it will not be an indefinite period of time.”
Fauci then turned to the vaccine as a sign of hope.
“The thing that we have so much in our favor is that we now have 80 million Americans fully vaccinated and 127 million have had at least one dose,” he continued. “Each day, we get three to four million people vaccinated, additionally, each day that goes by. So, what we need to do is just hang on there a bit longer until we get the majority, the overwhelming majority, of people vaccinated. And you will see, the level of infection continue to come down. And when it does, then you’ll see a relaxation of the kind of restrictions that people would like to get rid of because they want to get their lives back. I, certainly, want to get my life back. But I also put, as a higher priority, the health and the safety and the lives of the American public.”