Dr Anthony Fauci spoke on Sunday of the tense exchange he had with Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) during a congressional hearing on the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Thursday’s back-and-forth, a clip of which has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Twitter, Jordan had a temper tantrum on the government’s virus mitigation efforts, declaiming guidelines that encourage the use of masks and warn of large gatherings.
Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that he “didn’t like these kinds of confrontations.”
“But it was very, very clear that he was talking about freedoms that were being restricted,” Fauci said. “It has nothing to do with freedoms, Dana.
“We are talking about the fact that 560,000 people in our country have died,” he continued. “We’re talking about… 70,000 new infections a day. Here is the problem. It is a public health problem. It is not a question of civil liberties. “
Earlier in the interview, Bash noted that many Republicans are opposed to receiving the vaccine. According to a Monmouth University poll conducted earlier this month, 43% of Republicans said they would not get the COVID-19 vaccine; only 5% of Democrats responded in the same way.
“It’s pretty frustrating because the fact that one doesn’t want to get the shot – in this case, a worrying proportion of Republicans – only really works against where they want to be,” Fauci said.
“They want to be able to say that these restrictions imposed by public health recommendations are things that concern them a lot,” he added. “We are all very concerned about this. We share this concern. “
However, Fauci noted, the key to being able to reverse the restrictions is to get the vaccinations to take place as quickly as possible.
“It is almost paradoxical that on the one hand [Republicans] want to be relieved of the restrictions but on the other hand, they don’t want to be vaccinated, ”he said. “It almost makes no sense.”
Jordan, a frequent critic of Fauci and one of former President Donald Trump’s fiercest supporters, complained Thursday that Americans’ First Amendment rights had been “completely under attack” during the pandemic.
“Americans couldn’t go to church,” Jordan said. “Even today, when they go to church, they are limited to the size of the faithful that can meet. Your right to come together – oh my God. “
Fauci pushed back, accusing Jordan of “making this a personal thing.”
“My recommendations are not a personal recommendation,” Fauci said. “It’s based on CDC guidelines. … We are not talking about freedoms. We are talking about a pandemic that has killed 560,000 Americans. “
When Jordan continued to complain after his deadline expired, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Told him to “shut her mouth.”
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