"This is a purely public health issue. It should not be one against the other," Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Daily Show host on Monday

Advertisement
Trevor Noah, Dr. Fauci
Trevor Noah and Dr. Anthony Fauci
| Credit: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

The nation's top infectious disease expert told The Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Monday that he believes the “divisive state” in America has caused increased issues in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health, faced repeated criticisms from President Donald Trump and other conservative voices this summer while the president has privately said he's aimed to downplay the coronavirus.

“From a research and public health standpoint, I try my best," Fauci, 79, told Noah, 36 in Monday's interview. "I think I’m successful in giving a consistent message as often as I can get the message out —something that is just based on the scientific data, based on evidence, which is something that is really very important."

More than 200,000 people in the U.S. have died from the respiratory illness, according to a New York Times tracker, while at least 6.8 million people have been infected by the virus.

Trump has often contradicted U.S. health officials when it comes to public messaging about the virus. The president has repeatedly offered conflicting statements about the danger of the virus and how the public should respond — including dismissing medical assessments made by Fauci, himself.

Trump, 74, has slammed the NIH director in interviews and publicly disagreed with the medical expert after Fauci warned Congress about rushing to reopen schools and the economy.

Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci (left) and President Donald Trump during the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on April 13, 2020
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

In April, Trump retweeted a social media post calling for the president to "#FireFauci," while Fauci's presence at daily Coronavirus Task Force meetings waned as early as June, adding to more speculation about whether the Trump administration was making COVID-19 decisions based on medical information from experts.

White House staff members then circulated anti-Fauci talking points to the media in July, which aimed to portray the infectious disease expert as being inaccurate — highlighting past comments Fauci made while the medical community was first learning about how the virus spreads and who is at risk.

“One of the things that I think gets in the way is that we are in such a divisive state in society that it tends to get politicized," Fauci told Noah this week. "It’s almost one side versus the other."

During the conversation, Fauci expressed disappointment over how protective face masks have turned into a political issue.

“Public health measures should be more of a gateway and a pathway to opening the country as opposed to the obstacle to opening the country,” Fauci told Noah. “So, what has evolved now is that people almost take sides — like wearing a mask or not is a political statement — and that’s really very unfortunate. Totally unfortunate."

Fauci added: "This is a purely public health issue. It should not be one against the other.”