- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
- US health officials have reportedly increased Dr. Anthony Fauci’s security in response to threats to his safety.
- Sources told The Washington Post that the 79-year-old’s safety had recently become an issue for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, as Fauci has become a more visible – and sometimes critical – member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.
- The Post said it was unclear what threats were made against Fauci, though the outlet cited several articles critical of Fauci circulating among right-wing commentators and outlets.
- The doctor has also garnered a fan base of admirers who send him unwanted communications, the outlet said.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is a leading member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, is said to have increased security protection because of threats made to his personal safety.
Sources told The Washington Post that the 79-year-old’s safety had recently become an issue for Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, as Fauci has become a more visible – and sometimes critical – member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.
Fauci often appears with President Donald Trump during the daily White House coronavirus press briefings, and he has maintained a practical, blunt demeanor that clashed with Trump’s previously optimistic messaging regarding the outbreak’s outlook. Recently, Fauci pushed back on Trump’s public desire to lift coronavirus mitigation efforts by Easter, and he has said the US is likely to see “millions of cases” of COVID-19 and more than 100,000 deaths in the months to come.
“I can tell you absolutely that I tell the president, the vice president and everyone on the task force what exactly the scientific data is and what the evidence is,” Fauci said in March 13 testimony before Congress, adding, “I have never, ever held back telling exactly what is going on from a public-health standpoint.”
An official with knowledge of the request told The Post that the Department of Health and Human Services asked the US Marshals Service – a federal law-enforcement agency within the Department of Justice – to provide “protective services” for Fauci. The request was then moved up the ranks to the deputy attorney general, who recommended that the measure be approved, according to the report.
An administration official told The Post that a DOJ official signed paperwork Tuesday authorizing the HHS to provide Fauci with the department’s own security detail.
The Post said it was unclear what threats were made against Fauci, though the outlet cited several articles critical of Fauci circulating among right-wing commentators and outlets. Other outlets have also reported that Fauci has been the target of right-wing conspiracy theories claiming he is working to undermine Trump.
Beyond threats, the doctor has also garnered a fan base of admirers who send him unwanted communications, according to The Post. Some have praised Fauci as a trusted source for coronavirus updates within the administration.
Fauci fielded a question at Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing about whether he was to receive increased security; he referred reporters to HHS for comment.
An HHS representative told Business Insider in a statement that Fauci was an “integral part” of the US government’s coronavirus response but did not confirm whether that warranted his enhanced security.
“President Trump has declared a national emergency recognizing the threat that COVID-19 poses to the United States,” the statement said. “Dr. Fauci is an integral part of the US government’s response against COVID-19. Among other efforts, he is leading the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and he regularly appears at White House press briefings and media interviews.”
“We do not have anything further to add at this time,” the statement added.
Representatives for the DOJ did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
As of Wednesday evening, the US had reported more than 213,000 coronavirus cases and more than 4,700 deaths. The country last week surpassed Italy and China as the world’s coronavirus epicenter.