People magazine announced that they had named Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the coronavirus task force for President Donald Trump, as one of the “2020 people of the year.”
Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases for 36 years and has advised 6 presidents about health threats to the American people, but critics have taken aim at his response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is the most difficult and devastating infectious disease, respiratory disease outbreak, that we’ve experienced in the last 102 years, so as a public health official and as a scientist, it has been extremely challenging,” said Fauci to People magazine.
Critics have pointed to public relations missteps and contradictory messaging to disparage Fauci and oppose the social distancing guidelines he has espoused.
The relationship between Fauci and the president also appeared to sour in the latter part of 2020 when Trump called out his own task force leader for comments that contradicted his own opinions on the pandemic response.
“People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” said the president in an interview with CNN in October. “Fauci is a disaster. If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths.”
Fauci said in his interview with People magazine that he was stunned by the rancor with which his guidance was met by the public. He said that he and his family has received threats of violence over the public health crisis.
Many experts believe the U.S. is in the grip of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of December the nation had seen nearly 14 million cases of the virus, and more than 273,000 deaths. Daily deaths, however, were still slightly lower than the peak in April.