Asked if he could go back to March of 2020 and start over with the pandemic response, Dr. Fauci admitted that mistakes were made in his and the CDC's response to COVID's initial spread but refused blame for collateral damage caused by public health officials. What he did admit? That masking and social distancing restrictions should have been "much, much more stringent" than they were.
"If I knew in 2020 what I know now, we would do a lot differently," he said during an interview on HillTV's Rising.
"We were not sure of a number of things," Fauci admitted, despite his projected confidence during the earlier months of the pandemic and insistence that anyone questioning him was attacking Science(TM) itself. "We were not sure really of the complete modality of transmission. We knew and started to get information at the end of January and the beginning of February that this virus could spread from an asymptomatic person — we did not fully appreciate the extent of that," he said.
"The insidious nature of spread in the community would have been much more of an alarm, and there would have been much, much more stringent restrictions in the sense of very, very heavy encouraging people to wear masks, physical distancing, or what have you," Fauci said. "We also were not fully aware as we are now that this virus is also spread by aerosol spread which we did not fully realize at the time," he added. "There were some hints of that."
Asked about masking in light of Los Angeles County's looming return to mandates and the potential that this fall's back to school season may again see students forced to mask up to attend class in-person, Fauci sought to avoid blame for federal public health officials and instead make it about individual jurisdictions' decisions.
Invoking the CDC's data dashboards that show the level of spread at the county level, Fauci reiterated that Americans in areas with a "high level" of spread are recommended to wear masks in congregate indoor settings. "That is good public health practice," Fauci said of cities, counties, or states imposing mandates. "The CDC does not mandate anything," he insisted. "What they do is make recommendations — because at the local level you may have a very different situation in one region of the country, or one county, or one city, or one state very different from another region, city or state," Fauci explained. "Whether something becomes a requirement is something that's decided at the local level." Never mind, apparently, that Fauci attacked red states for using that same ability to *not* lock everything down just because the CDC recommended it.
"There was a lot of conflicting data back then as we were in the early months of 2020," Fauci also said of the "science" that was to be trusted without question. "So the recommendations were a bit confusing about whether to wear a mask or not," he admitted.
"These were all things that evolved in our understanding of them," Fauci said of the seemingly contradictory guidance and information offered by the CDC, NIAID, and other public health officials. He continued by whining that "criticisms" of official COVID guidance are "not fair."
"I can tell you that I have always had an open mind to the comments of the community," Fauci claimed. "I always listen and take what I hear from the community. Sometimes that's incorrect and misguided but sometimes it gives you important information and feedback from the real world," he said. "When people criticize, I always take criticism seriously, analyze it, and see if there's anything I can learn and do better from the criticism," Fauci concluded.