The nation’s most recognizable public health official has led every charge for lockdowns, masks and vaccines since the pandemic began. He faces unrelenting, withering criticism from the right. And a recent national survey indicated that more than half of U.S. voters think he should quit.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has led the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and will turn 81 on Christmas Eve, says he isn’t going anywhere.
“I’m the director of the institute that has now been very important in the basic research … that will now have an important impact in the treatment of COVID-19,” Fauci told CBS News in an interview aired Sunday. “That’s what I do.”
Fauci, who also serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said he won’t quit until the pandemic “is in the rearview mirror.” He suggested the nation “can ultimately live with” an infection rate of less than 10,000 new cases per day. The current average is more than 70,000 cases per day.
Fauci shrugs off as politically motivated the criticism targeting him and his efforts. But public support is showing signs of waning. A Hill-HarrisX poll conducted from October 26-27 found 52% of registered voters polled felt Fauci should resign.
“If you keep lying about someone and keep spreading preposterous accusations, they’re going to be some people, if they hear that often enough, are going to believe it,” he said. “But that’s just the way it is. I can’t change the fabric of society about social media and how it works.”
Also in the news:
►The Austrian government ordered a nationwide lockdown for unvaccinated people starting midnight Sunday. Authorities cite rising deaths and concerns that hospital staff will no longer be able to handle the growing influx of COVID-19 patients.
►Eight residents of a nursing home in Connecticut have died during a coronavirus outbreak and 89 residents and employees have tested positive, officials at the Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Canaan said. The outbreak began Sept. 30.
►A day after announcing the suspension of shows due to positive COVID-19 tests within its company, “Chicken & Biscuits” producers said the production will end early. It will play its final Broadway performance Nov. 28. It was set to run through Jan. 2.
►A lawsuit claims new COVID-19 legislation in Tennessee banning public schools from mandating masks in most instances is unconstitutional and violates federal disability law. The suit was filed in federal court within an hour of Gov. Bill Lee signing the legislation.
►The University of Kentucky said 24 employees have been placed on administrative leave for not following its rule that unvaccinated employees get regularly tested for COVID-19.
📈Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 47 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 762,900 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: Almost 252.9 million cases and 5 million deaths. More than 194.9 million Americans – 58.7% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
📘 What we’re reading: School-age kids are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. When can they stop wearing masks in school?
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For the first time in two months, COVID-19 case counts and deaths are rising again in most U.S. states, especially in the northern tier and Rocky Mountains. A USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows infections are rising in 33 states. Does this mean a fifth wave of the pandemic is cresting? With a virus this new to humanity it’s impossible to say, said Dr. Susan Kline, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
“This is only the second year we have experienced such a fall wave,” she said. “We saw a very similar trend last year. People are moving indoors now because the weather’s getting cold.”
Experts say the surge is being driven by a combination of factors: the seasonality of the virus, waning immunity and many still-unvaccinated Americans. And it underscores the likelihood COVID-19 is here to stay. Read more here.
– Elizabeth Weise and Mike Stucka
In classrooms across the country, the first months of school this fall have laid bare what many in education feared: Students are way behind in skills they should have mastered already.
Children in early elementary school have had their most formative first few years of education disrupted by the pandemic, years when they learn basic math and reading skills and important social-emotional skills, like how to get along with peers and follow routines in a classroom.
While experts say it’s likely these students will catch up in many skills, the stakes are especially high around reading. Research shows if children are struggling to read at the end of first grade, they are likely to still be struggling as fourth graders.
“Higher-income parents, higher-educated parents, are likely to have worked with their children to teach them to read and basic numbers,” said Melissa Clearfield, a professor of psychology who focuses on young children and poverty at Whitman College. “Families who were not able to, either because their parents were essential workers or children whose parents are significantly low-income or not educated, they’re going to be really far behind.”
– Jackie Mader, The Hechinger Report
Three snow leopards at the Lincoln, Nebraska, Children’s Zoo have died from complications due to COVID-19 after multiple animals were infected, the zoo said Friday.
“This loss is truly heartbreaking, and we are all grieving together,” the zoo said in a statement on Facebook. Snow leopards Ranney, Everest and Makalu tested positive after some exhibited symptoms, the zoo announced last month.
The zoo’s Sumatran tigers also showed symptoms and tested positive. They appear to have fully recovered, the zoo said. The animals were treated with steroids and antibiotics.
Contributing: The Associated Press