Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took shots at White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday, saying that Fauci has “done a lot of damage” as the government’s leading spokesman on the COVID-19 pandemic and has never apologized for being wrong.
“I think he’s done a lot of damage,” DeSantis said during an interview on “Fox & Friends.” “I think he should have been gone long ago. And if you think about what he’s done with his arrogance, that’s part of the reason why he’s advocated policies that have been so destructive. He thinks people that disagree with him are somehow beneath him.”
DeSantis said Fauci’s recommendations were the “driving force” behind policies he has opposed as governor of Florida, including shutting down schools, masking children, and closing businesses to slow the spread of the virus.
“He cost people jobs. He destroyed people’s businesses with his policies — and he was never willing to admit he was wrong when it was clear those policies don’t work,” DeSantis said.
— Scott Morefield (@Scott Morefield)
The governor’s jabs come a day after Fauci announced he will be leaving his government job at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for other career opportunities.
Fauci has served in various public health roles for more than five decades, becoming the chief spokesman for the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response over the last two years. His ubiquitous appearances on cable television and in news media during the pandemic made him a household name, but also brought intense scrutiny from those, like DeSantis, who opposed his policy recommendations.
DeSantis gained popularity in Florida and among Republican voters by setting himself up as a foil to “Faucism,” a word the governor uses to describe divisive lockdowns, social-distancing, and mandatory mask policies.
Public health officials, including Fauci, insist those drastic measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 early in the pandemic were necessary to save lives. Their critics have argued lockdowns and similar measures failed to deliver on promises to mitigate virus spread and imposed grave socioeconomic costs including, but not limited to, a recession, inflation, an exacerbated mental health crisis, and children falling behind in school.
Though Fauci is set to leave office by the end of the year, DeSantis told “Fox & Friends” that Republicans should attempt to hold him accountable for his handling of the pandemic if they reclaim majorities in Congress after the upcoming November election.
“I hope if Republicans take control that they will get to the bottom of everything from the origins of COVID to all the manifest failures of the public health establishment, particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci.”