Dr. Anthony Fauci is the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases–basically the Michael Jordan of infectious diseases. Recently, Americans have been introduced to the doctor because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But why is he taking the internet and America by storm?
(Dr. Fauci sits and listens to the White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing.)
To many Americans, he has been a symbol of fact-based scientific leadership. His work throughout six administrations, Republican and Democratic, has never been about anything but science. He was a major leader in the fight against HIV/AIDs and has dealt with other viruses such as SARS, MERS, and Ebola. In recognition of his service, Dr. Fauci was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush.
Today, Dr. Fauci is a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, working alongside figures such as Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx. He advises the President on what guidelines and mitigation steps should be taken to mitigate the current crisis. He is also a regular at President Trump’s daily press briefings where he clarifies the science behind actions taken by the administration.
(Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks at the White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing beside President Donald Trump.)
Despite his 77% approval rating among Americans, not all consider themselves fans of the doctor. Far right activists have been floating a conspiracy theory that Dr. Fauci is trying to undermine President Trump’s response to the pandemic. These conspiracy theorists have taken to multiple platforms of social media, from YouTube to Twitter, to spread their message. President Trump even retweeted a tweet with “#FireFauci” after Dr. Fauci claimed “you could have saved lives” if the response to the pandemic occurred sooner on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper. Fauci has since clarified those claims, but he is still a target of the far right. There have been recent protests to certain states’ stay-at-home orders, and protesters at those demonstrations have continued to call for President Trump to fire Dr. Fauci. Anti-Fauci activists have even sent death threats to the doctor, forcing the government to give him a security detail.
(A Trump supporter stands in front of signs from lockdown protest with one sign reading, “#FireFauci”.)
Despite the far right’s strong disdain for Dr. Fauci, the doctor’s fanbase is larger than ever. The love for Dr. Fauci has taken the social media app TikTok by storm and has led to a petition for him to become People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. Fauci t-shirts, mugs, and even donuts are for sale across the internet. The New York Times is calling this overwhelming outbreak of support for Dr. Fauci, the “Fauci Fever.”
(Dr. Anthony Fauci’s face printed upon donuts.)
Dr. Fauci is currently America’s favorite member of the federal government. His work has given many Americans a sense of confidence in the federal government’s ability to fight COVID-19. Because of his ability to calm citizens’ heightened nerves, Dr. Fauci is the hero America never knew they needed until now.