Fauci says he worried about getting Covid at Trump White House

Infectious disease expert tells Axios he had been nervous going there when many were coming down with the virus

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: ‘The White House was sort of a super-spreader location.’
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: ‘The White House was sort of a super-spreader location.’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: ‘The White House was sort of a super-spreader location.’ Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Guardian staff

Last modified on Tue 16 Feb 2021 08.57 EST

Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert and chief medical and coronavirus adviser to Joe Biden, revealed on Monday that he had been nervous entering the White House when many there were coming down with Covid-19 late in Donald Trump’s presidency.

Fauci is 80 years old and said that as such he was acutely aware that he was at high risk of suffering a “serious outcome” if he became infected by coronavirus, he told Axios in an interview clip posted online.

“I didn’t fixate on that, but it was in the back of my mind because I had to be out there,” he said, adding: “I mean, particularly when I was going to the White House every day, when the White House was sort of a super-spreader location. I mean, that made me a little bit nervous.”

Last October Donald Trump contracted Covid-19 and was taken by helicopter to Walter Reed military medical center, just outside Washington DC, where he was hospitalized and underwent treatment before being released.

His falling ill followed a crowded Rose Garden ceremony during which the then president announced Amy Coney Barrett as his supreme court nominee, which was later criticized as a super-spreader event, with many not wearing masks while sitting side-by-side and congregating in crowded rooms inside the White House.

At least seven figures in attendance tested positive for coronavirus, including Trump, his former counsellor, Kellyanne Conway, and two Republican senators, Thom Tillis and Mike Lee.

Fauci was not at that particular event but as the leading public health official on Trump’s White House coronavirus taskforce, he had to go to the White House frequently.

Trump played down the coronavirus from the start, despite knowing its dangers, repeatedly claimed it would disappear, discouraged face masks and exhorted businesses and schools to stay open.