Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has made a slew of public appearances in recent days warning that the US should take stricter cautionary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
However, Fauci struck a devastating blow to his own credibility in an interview on Friday when he said that the nation should look to New York for guidance on how to respond “correctly.”
Doing it “properly”
During a Friday interview with “PBS Newshour,” Fauci highlighted New York’s COVID-19 response, remarking:
When you do it properly, you bring down those cases … We have done it in New York. New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly.
New York state has had the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the nation, with nearly half a million cases and over 32,000 deaths. The only other state that comes close to the death toll that New York experienced in New Jersey, with 183,000 cases and over 15,000 deaths.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order in late March dictating that nursing homes in the state were prohibited from refusing to accept coronavirus cases. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy followed in his footsteps, issuing a similar order just days later.
The virus blazed through both New York and New Jersey early on, and by mid-June, the curve finally began to flatten — but the death toll speaks for itself.
According to some tallies, Cuomo’s order was responsible for sending some 6,300 COVID-19 patients into the state’s nursing homes, exposing thousands of the most vulnerable populations to the deadly virus. Cuomo did not rescind his nursing home order until late May, long after the damage was done.
The New York Times reported on July 15 that “At least 57,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, according to a New York Times database. As of July 15, the virus has infected more than 316,000 people at some 14,000 facilities.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) ripped Dr. Fauci’s praise of Cuomo’s handling of the virus, tweeting on Saturday, “these comments by Dr. Fauci are a slap in the face to the thousands of New Yorkers who suffered immensely due to the inept and fatal policy errors from Governor Andrew Cuomo.”
Fauci sounds the alarm
Dr. Fauci and other virus experts are understandable alarmed by the trend of increasing COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but the death tolls are still far lower in these new hotspots than in New York and New Jersey.
Though California, Florida, and Texas are hot on New York’s heels for the most virus cases in the nation, the death tolls in all three states are a small fraction of New York’s shocking tally. Of course, Dr. Fauci had an answer to the disparity between the states’ death tolls, warning that observations about the difference are a “false narrative”
“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Fauci said during an event with Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in early July. “There’s so many other things that are dangerous and bad about the virus. Don’t get into false complacency.”