The U.S.’s top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci has pushed back on accusations that he is for “authoritarian” rule surround coronavirus measures, but added that Americans should listen to health authorities.
“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,” Fauci said while speaking at the Washington National Cathedral Thursday CNBC first reported. “I can understand that, but now is the time to do what you’re told.”
Fauci also pushed back on accusations that health officials have taken “authoritarian” positions in their recommendations on how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic – a sentiment echoed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Thursday.
“He believes that submission and lockdowns are fine, he’s not too worried about individual liberties,” Paul told Fox News’ Martha McCallum before adding that lockdowns and mask mandates are the equivalent to living in an “authoritarian” society.
Fauci, speaking with other top health officials, said it was disappointing that the coronavirus pandemic “has been lumped into politics.”
He also said that he believes people are unwilling to listen to what scientists have recommended because of the “divisive” state of the country -- a belief backed by a Pew Research report that found Democrats are more likely that Republicans to believe the coronavirus is threat to public health.
“All of a sudden science gets caught in a lot of this divisiveness,” he said.
Fauci’s comments come as the U.S. is seeing a record number of coronavirus cases nationwide in the second wave of the pandemic, with 153,496 new cases and 919 deaths reported on Friday.
Cities like Chicago, where case loads are topping highs from the spring, are now re-entering stay-at-home orders -- a move that has frustrated conservatives.
But Fauci believes that if people wore masks and listened to social distancing advisories while maintaining sanitary measures like washing or disinfecting their hands, this virus will be able to stay in check – enabling the country to remain open.
Over 10.7 million Americans have contracted the coronavirus and more than 244,000 have died during the pandemic.