"It’s really disappointing that we don’t have adequate testing, that the credibility of top scientists like yourself and the CDC are being undermined," Mark Zuckerberg told Dr. Anthony Fauci on Thursday

By Gabrielle Chung
July 16, 2020 08:56 PM
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Mark Zuckerberg; Dr. Anthony Fauci
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was disappointed in the government's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic during an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, on the social media platform Thursday.

After Fauci, 79, recommended that the United States government should "take a time out" on reopening the country amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in some areas, Zuckerberg, 36, expressed his frustrations with how the Donald Trump administration has been handling the health crisis.

"As someone running a business, I've said that I believe the best way to improve both public health and economic opportunity in this country is to focus on beating this virus first," the tech mogul said.

"I think you might be quite generous in your description of the government's response here," he told Fauci. "Now I was certainly sympathetic early on when it was clear that there would be some outbreaks no matter how well we handle this, but you know now that we're here in July, I just think that it was avoidable."

Dr. Anthony Fauci
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Zuckerberg continued, "It’s really disappointing that we don’t have adequate testing, that the credibility of top scientists like yourself and the CDC are being undermined. Until recently, parts of the administration were calling into question whether people should follow basic best practices like wearing masks."

Fauci then went on to stress the importance of wearing masks, explaining that health officials' stance on face coverings has since "evolved" due to the mask shortage earlier on in the outbreak.

"As information changes, you have to be flexible enough and humble enough to be able to change how you think about things. One of the important things we're emphasizing right now that really evolved from a situation that did change is our insistence on wearing masks," he said. "Masks are very important."

"Early on, we were in a situation in which there was a real concern about the lack of personal protective equipment on the part of health providers who needed it," Fauci explained. "We were thinking we would run out of masks and other things for them, so the recommendation was not to wear a mask because of the shortage of it."

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Fauci, one of the longest serving federal health officials in the country, has been a key member of the White House coronavirus task force since the beginning. Polls shows he has been broadly trusted by the public on coronavirus issues, though Republicans were more likely to place stock in Trump.

However, the Trump administration made unusual push to undermine Fauci in recent times, starting from last Thursday with the president himself leading the way.

During a phone interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Trump took aim at Fauci's track record throughout the pandemic and argued he knew better than the immunologist, saying, "Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he's made a lot of mistakes."

On Sunday, Trump retweeted former Wheel of Fortune host Chuck Woolery, who claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many doctors and the media were "lying" about the coronavirus. (Fauci wasn't specifically named.)

Dr. Anthony Fauci (left) and President Donald Trump
Alex Wong/Getty; Doug MIlls/The New York Times/Pool/Getty

Also on Sunday, Dan Scavino — the White House's director of social media who was promoted in April to deputy chief of staff for communications — shared a political cartoon on his Facebook page that criticized Fauci's support of shutdowns and social distancing in order to slow the virus.

However, the White House since pushed back on the idea the administration has been undermining Fauci, with Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany telling reporters on Monday that "Dr. Fauci and the president have always had a very good working relationship."

Speaking with NBC News this week, Fauci said that the public should rely on its "respected medical authorities who have a track record of telling the truth ... based on scientific evidence and good data."

"That's the safest bet to do: to listen to the recommendations from that category of people," Fauci said. "But it's entirely understandable how the public can get mixed messages and then get a bit confused about what they should do."

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