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MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell mistakenly claimed that President Donald Trump was wrong in his assertion Thursday that the country’s lead immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, initially advised Americans not to wear a mask at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.
“The president today is challenging his own public health officials about whether schools can safely reopen and about public gatherings as the pandemic reaches crisis levels in key states,” Mitchell said Friday as she teased her show, “Andrea Mitchell Reports.”
“As evidence of the growing divide, the president openly criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci on Fox last night,” she added.
The MSNBC host was referring to comments that President Trump made during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity the previous night.
“Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” the president said after being asked about the spikes in those states. “A lot of them said ‘don’t wear a mask, don’t wear a mask.’ Now they are saying wear a mask. A lot of mistakes were made, a lot of mistakes.”
Mitchell responded: “Of course that is not true, but, in fact, Fauci has told the Financial Times that he has not personally briefed the president in more than five weeks.”
In reality, Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” in March there was no need for Americans to be walking around with masks, even though many people in China — where the virus originated — were doing so.
“The masks are important for someone who’s infected to prevent them from infecting someone else,” he said. “Now, when you see people and look at the films and China and South Korea, wherever, everybody’s wearing a mask.
“Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” he added.
“You’re sure of it. ‘Cause people are listening really close to this,” the interviewer responded.
“Right now…there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask,” Fauci asserted.
But then Fauci went on to explain the shortcomings of mask-wearing and why they really aren’t as effective a coronavirus barrier as they’ve been made out to be by many in the media.
“When you’re in the middle of an outbreak might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet,” he explained. “But it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.
“And often, there are unintended consequences,” the immunologist continued. “People keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face. … But when you think masks, you should think of healthcare providers needing them and people who are ill,” Fauci noted further.
He added that “it’s fine” if most people want to wear a mask, but agreed with he interviewer when he said widespread use in the U.S. at that time would lead to shortages of masks for healthcare providers.
In addition to Fauci’s truths about the general ineffectiveness of masks, his recommendation that Americans, en masse, did not need to be wearing them — again, in March — is also noteworthy.
That’s because last month Fauci essentially admitted that he was intentionally misleading the country about mask-wearing at the time because of shortages of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
“[W]e were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply,” he told The Street.
“And we wanted to make sure that the people, namely, the healthcare workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm [sic] way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected,” he added. “We did not want them to be without the equipment that they needed.”
Interestingly, despite initially misleading the public, Fauci complained about “anti-science” people who “don’t believe authority” in a mid-June episode of the Department of Health and Human Services’ podcast “Learning Curve.”
“One of the problems we face in the United States is that, unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science, and they don’t believe authority,” he said.
“So, when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that — and that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth. … If you go by the evidence and by the data, you’re speaking the truth.”
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