A man faces felony charges after he emailed graphic insults and death threats to top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in a federal court in Maryland.
Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., was accused of sending multiple violent threats to Fauci’s National Institutes of Health email from late December of last year until late July of 2021.
Connally called Fauci, who serves as the current Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a “lying sack of s—” and “a sickening, compromised satanic freemason criminal,” citing the complaint.
Connally appeared to be disgruntled regarding Fauci’s guidance on getting the COVID-19 vaccine. One email from late April read that Fauci and his wife “will have the teeth smashed out of its worthless k— skull if you say ONE MORE WORD about ‘mandatory vaccines.'”
“I do believe at the local level there should be more mandates,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union” earlier this month. “We’re talking about life-and-death situation. We’ve lost 600,000 Americans already, and we’re still losing more people. There’ve been 4 million deaths worldwide, so I am in favor of that.”
Some emails threatened the lives of Fauci and his family, with one message from late April reading that they will “be dragged into the street, beaten to death, and set on fire,” according to screenshots included in the documents.
Special Agent Brett D. Rowland, who works with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), filed the affidavit on Tuesday, charging Connally with making threats against a federal official and interstate communications containing a threat to harm.
Investigators with the HHS began “protective operations” around Fauci in March of last year when he became the point person for guidance amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Part of those protective operations involve the vetting of threats received by various means, including mail, voicemail, and emails,” Rowland wrote in the criminal complaint. The operations led to the probe of threatening emails allegedly sent by Connally.
Attorney information for Connally was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment. Representatives for the HHS did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The White House’s top medical advisor, Dr Anthony Fauci, has said that the US’ campaigns to innoculate people against diseases in the past would not have been successful if anti-vaccination misinformation had been as popular as it is now.
In an interview with CNN Saturday, host Jim Acosta asked Fauci whether history could have played out differently if public health authorities in the past had had to battle the waves of misinformation currently spreading in the US.
Acosta asked if he thought “we could have defeated the measles or eradicated polio if you had Fox News, night after night, warning people about these vaccine issues that are just bunk.”
Fauci said: “We probably would still have smallpox, and we probably would still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that’s being spread now,” Fauci said.
Fauci has become a hate figure for some right-wingers. A PAC linked to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has even started selling “Don’t Fauci My Florida” merchandise.
In the interview with CNN, Fauci expressed his bafflement at the hostility directed at him.
“Taking an individual who stands for public health, for truth… and to use my name in a derogatory way to prevent people from doing things that’s for the benefit of their own health, go figure that one out.”
Amid some of the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations, and infections in the US, Florida’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, is mocking White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci with campaign merchandise released this week.
DeSantis’ campaign team rolled out T-shirts and koozies reading “Don’t Fauci My Florida” on Monday, in the latest Republican stunt against COVID-19 measures.
Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, DeSantis has positioned himself as a vocal opponent to lockdown measures, keeping most of Florida’s schools and businesses open in spite of public-health experts’ calls for social distancing.
Other T-shirts and hats on the DeSantis campaign site read “Keep Florida Free” while certain beer koozies sport a key DeSantis quote that reads “”How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”
DeSantis’ campaign did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
It’s not the first time DeSantis has slammed Fauci, who also serves as the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In early June, when COVID cases in the state had plateaued as vaccinations became widely available, DeSantis said Florida was faring so well economically because the state did not follow Fauci’s advice.
Fauci has been a vocal proponent of face masks, vaccinations, and social distancing in the face of the pandemic – measures that many conservatives have rallied against, helping to turn Fauci, a medical expert, into a polarizing political figure over the last year.
“We’re going to end up probably having like $10 million in reserve once the new budget takes effect,” DeSantis said in June. “That would not have been possible if we had followed Fauci. Instead we followed freedom. And that’s the reason Florida is doing better.
But the virus outlook in the state has turned worrisome in recent weeks.
As of Wednesday, Florida had the highest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the US and the second-highest number of daily reported cases per capita, falling only behind Arkansas, according to The Washington Post COVID-19 tracker..
Fauci, for his part, has brushed off the conservative backlash towards him, previously calling the response “bizarre.”
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Pop star Olivia Rodrigo on Wednesday visited the White House to meet with President Joe Biden and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, in a push for younger Americans to receive vaccinations to fight against COVID-19.
Speaking from the White House press briefing room podium, Rodrigo, who will record videos to promote the vaccine, expressed excitement at the opportunity to reach a younger audience.
“I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of youth vaccination,” she said. “I’m in awe of the work President Biden and Dr. Fauci have done and was happy to help lend my support to this important initiative.”
She added: “It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members encouraging all communities to get vaccinated, and actually get to a vaccination site, which you can do more easily than ever before, given how many sites we have and how easy it is to find them at vaccines.gov.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was thrilled at Rodrigo’s visit, noting that the star herself offered to come to Washington, DC.
“We need to reach people, meet people where they are and speaking to young people – people who are under the age of 18, many of whom as we’ve seen across the country are huge Olivia Rodrigo fans – hearing from her that … getting vaccinated is a way to keep yourself safe, a way to ensure you can see your friends, a way you can ensure you can go to concerts, a way you can ensure that you can live a healthy life is an important part of what we’re trying to do here,” Psaki said.
She added: “I will say, not every 18-year-old uses their time to come do this so we appreciate her willingness to.”
Rodrigo’s trip to the White House was first announced on Instagram on Tuesday after Biden posted an old photo of himself on the social media platform.
“I know this young person would’ve gotten vaccinated, but we’ve got to get other young people protected as well,” the president wrote in the caption. “Who’s willing to help?”
Rodrigo responded: “i’m in! see you tomorrow at the white house!”
“You bet!” Biden replied.
This visit comes as the president has doubled down on efforts to vaccinate more Americans, but especially younger Americans, as the highly infectious Delta variant continues to spread across the country.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he believes there should be more COVID-19 vaccine mandates at the local level, though he continues to say the federal government will not mandate them.
Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was speaking on CNN’s State of the Union when Jake Tapper asked him if he supports local vaccine mandates at places like schools and businesses.
“I do believe at the local level there should be more mandates,” Fauci said. “We’re talking about life and death situation. We’ve lost 600,000 Americans already and we’re still losing more people. There’ve been 4 million deaths worldwide, so I am in favor of that.”
Fauci said he believes part of the reason groups are hesitant to mandate vaccines is because they have not been fully approved. The coronavirus vaccines used in the US have received emergency use authorization, which can be used by the Food and Drug Administration during public health emergencies. But Fauci said the data behind the vaccines is robust.
“The amount of data right now that shows a high degree of effectiveness and a high degree of safety is more than we’ve ever seen with emergency use authorization,” he said. “These vaccines are as good as officially approved, with all the Is dotted and the Ts crossed.”
Fauci said they haven’t received full approval due to processes that have to take place at the FDA but that “it’s as good as done.” He predicted that once they are formally approved, there may be more local mandates.
About 59% of American adults are fully vaccinated, with the US falling short of the White House’s goal to have inoculated 70% of adults by July 4. Vaccines are widely available but public health officials are working to combat vaccine hesitancy, particularly among Republicans.
At a Conservative Political Action Conference event in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday, a crowd cheered about the US failing to meet its vaccination goal. Speaking on CNN, Fauci called the reaction “horrifying.”
“They are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives,” he said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday he was horrified when attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) appeared to cheer about the US failing to reach its vaccination goal this month.
Video of a CPAC discussion at its second conference of 2021 in Dallas posted to social media appeared to show the crowd cheering on the US’ inability to vaccinate most of its population.
“They were hoping – the government was hoping – they could sucker 90% of the population into getting vaccinated. And it isn’t happening,” said Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who The Atlantic earlier this year dubbed “the pandemic’s wrongest man.”
Berenson was interrupted by cheers from the audience before he continued, claiming that younger people were avoiding getting vaccination because of potential side effects.
“They are cheering about someone saying that it’s a good thing for people not to try and save their lives,” he added. “I mean, if you just unpack that for a second… it’s almost frightening to say hey, guess what, we don’t want you to do something to save your life. Yay. Everybody starts screaming and clapping.
Fauci added: “I just don’t get that, and I don’t think that anybody who is thinking clearly can get that.”
About 68% of the US adult population has been partially vaccinated against COVID-19, receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. In total, about 55% of the US population is partially vaccinated. About 48% of the US population is fully vaccinated against the disease, according to CDC data as of July 10.
Speaking on the White House South Lawn on Sunday, Biden said America was “coming back together” after “emerging from the darkness of a year of pandemic and isolation.”
But he still urged caution, saying: “Today we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus. That’s not to say the battle against COVID-19 is over. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”
His speech came as the US missed its target of giving at least one vaccine dose to 70% of eligible US adults of July 4. The most recent numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which came on Friday, put that figure at 67%.
In a Sunday appearance on NBC News, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious-diseases expert in the US, said there was a “disparity in the willingness to be vaccinated” so “there are some states where the level of vaccination of individuals is 35% or less.”
“Under those circumstances, you might expect to see spikes in certain regions, in certain states, cities, or counties,” he added.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, also warned that the Delta variant is “outpacing” the rate of vaccinations worldwide, The Guardian reported Saturday.
As the Delta variant continues nationwide, Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging Americans – and anti-vaxxers in particular – to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired Sunday, Fauci called the coronavirus pandemic a “formidable enemy” that’s “tragically really disrupted our planet now for about a year and a half.”
He alluded to anti-vaxxers who have been at best hesitant to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Whatever the reasons,” he said, “some of them are ideological, some of them are just fundamentally anti-vax or anti-science or what have you. But, you know, we just need to put that aside now. We’re dealing with a historic situation with this pandemic. And we do have the tools to counter it. So for goodness’ sakes, put aside all of those differences and realize that the common enemy is the virus.”
The variant has been detected in all 50 states, and health officials all over – including Fauci and others across city, state, and federal levels – continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
More than 605,000 people have died from the coronavirus since its inception in the United States, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. About 47% of the total US population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, JHU data says.
President Joe Biden said he hoped at least 70% of all adults in the country would receive at least one dose by the Fourth of July holiday this year. Twenty states have already hit the 70% partial vaccination rate among their adult populations. But nationwide, the White House conceded Biden’s goal would likely fall short.
In the same interview, Fauci said deaths from the coronavirus are at this point “avoidable and preventable.”
“The overwhelming proportion of people who get into trouble are the unvaccinated,” Fauci said. “Which is the reason why we say this is really entirely avoidable and preventable.”
People who don’t get vaccinated against the coronavirus are increasing the likelihood of Delta variant spikes across the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday, Fauci, the nation’s leading coronavirus expert, said the Delta variant could spike in different regions, even as overall vaccination rates go up and new COVID-19 cases go down.
There’s a “disparity in the willingness to be vaccinated,” Fauci said. “So there are some states where the level of vaccination of individuals is 35% or less. Under those circumstances, you might expect to see spikes in certain regions, in certain states, cities, or counties.”
“And in some places, some states, some cities, some areas where the level of vaccination is low and the level of virus dissemination is high – that’s where you’re going to see the spikes,” he said.
Already, the variant has been detected in all 50 states, and health officials all over continue to urge Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In some states, specific counties are seeing drastically higher rates of confirmed coronavirus cases. Health officials there attribute the spike to the Delta variant.
Colorado, for example, is overall seeing a decrease in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. But regionally, the Delta variant is causing spikes. Mesa County in Colorado has had a 34% increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases within the last two weeks, according to a COVID-19 tracker from The New York Times.
The Delta variant “is more effective and efficient in its ability to transmit from person to person,” Fauci said Sunday. “It’s clear that it appears to be more lethal in the sense of more serious – allow you to get more serious disease leading to hospitalization, and in some cases leading to deaths.”
More than 605,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. About 47% of the total US population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, JHU data say.
“I don’t think you’re going to be seeing anything nationwide,” Fauci said of Delta variant spikes. “Because fortunately, we have a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated. So it’s going to be regional. And that’s the thing that will be confusing when people look at what we do. We’re going to see, and I’ve said, almost two types of America.”
Renae Moch never expected that she’d feel scared to leave her house. As the public health director of Burleigh County, North Dakota, she was accustomed to warning residents about the dangers of vape pens or a bad flu season without much pushback. Then the pandemic hit.
Moch found herself being called a “Nazi” and “tyrant” on social media. People protested with signs and bullhorns outside her office. At city commission meetings, attendees would boo audibly or grumble under their breath when she spoke.
“I would get accused of fear-mongering and lying to people and making things out to be much worse than they are,” Moch told Insider. The messages came in all forms, she said: letters, emails, phone calls.
Distrust of science isn’t new in the US. The anti-vaccination movement dates back to 19th century New Englanders who opposed the smallpox vaccine. Climate-change deniers have been vocal since the 1980s. But the pandemic intensified a new type of attack – one that focused not on the research itself, but on experts and health officials as people.
“A lot of the attacks were not necessarily based on the science,” Moch said. “A lot of the backlash and attacks were personally against me.”
Norbert Schwarz, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, said opposition to scientists in the US is “a bit more virulent this time around because it’s so closely tied up with political polarization.”
One reason for this, Schwarz and other experts think, is that the pandemic arrived at a time when a broad segment of the US – primarily working-class conservatives – was already expressing increased distrust of big institutions, including the healthcare industry. Scientists, then, were an easy target.
“Populist movements are anti-elitist and there’s nothing more elitist than the science thing,” Schwarz told Insider. “These guys do things that are not quite clear to you. They have fancy titles, and they live in better houses, and they have better jobs and bizarre things like tenure, and they can’t be fired, and they’re usually liberal.'”
Moch said many of the responses to her public-health guidance seemed to question her authority.
“It was like, ‘Who are you and what gives you the right to tell us that we have to do this?'” she said. “It was a difficult period.”
Even with the pandemic now tapering off in the US, psychologists don’t think the anti-scientist trend is over.
“We have this sort of zeitgeist phenomenon in the country where people are losing faith in these big institutions,” Peter Ditto, a professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine, told Insider. “Science is going through kind of a crisis.”
More than 180 public-health leaders resigned in less than a year
In the fall of 2020, North Dakota experienced a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases. Moch encouraged Bismarck’s city commission to instate a mask mandate, but residents railed against it. At a contentious commission meeting in October, Moch listened to people denounce masks for four hours.
One woman said she refused to “blindly follow the herd and put a piece of cloth over my face,” even after she’d lost two close family friends to COVID-19.
Moch considered resigning.
“I thought to myself, ‘Why in the heck am I doing this? Do I want to continue? Why am I subjecting myself to this?'” she said.
Had Moch quit, she would have joined a long list of public-health officials who did just that during the pandemic. From April to December 2020, more than 180 state and local public-health leaders across 38 states resigned, retired, or were fired, according to a joint investigation from the Associated Press and Kaiser Health News. In North Dakota, where Moch lives, three state health officers have resigned since May 2020.
Even if there is consensus in science, there is dispute. That means for many people that scientists don’t know what they’re doing.
In Orange County, California, Nichole Quick left her job as chief health officer in June 2020, after public backlash to her proposed mask mandate. Residents brought a banner depicting Quick as a Nazi to a Board of Supervisors meeting. At another meeting, one woman read Quick’s home address aloud and threatened to bring a group to “do calisthenics in masks on her front doorstep” as a form of protest.
Tisha Coleman, a public health administrator in Linn County, Kansas, was sued last year for telling a resident to quarantine. At a November county commissioner’s meeting, one resident equated Coleman’s proposed mask mandate to “peaceful slavery.” The county never implemented the rule.
Like Moch, Coleman chose to stay in her post, even as she faced harassment – and even still after her mother died of COVID-19.
During the Ebola crisis in 2014, conservatives in the US called for tighter travel restrictions than Democrats did. At the time, psychologists theorized that conservatives were more inclined to react strongly to a perceived danger.
“Conservatism is a strategy to protect a society from harm from both outsiders and diseases,” journalist Brian Resnick wrote in The Atlantic in 2014. “Ebola hits this exact conservative nerve – it’s a deadly disease from a foreign country.”
But in the case of the coronavirus, the idea that scientists were trying to dupe the public swelled among conservatives, leading many to fear a loss of liberty more than the virus. President Donald Trump, of course, played a major role in shaping that narrative. He had already painted himself as the David that would put the Goliath industries of science and medicine in check, and also regularly suggested that Democrats were exaggerating the virus’ severity as a political stunt.
“That’s really what general populist politics is about: ‘The elite are somehow screwing the folks out there and I’m here to defend you,'” Ditto said.
A Cornell University analysis found that Trump was the largest driver of coronavirus misinformation during the pandemic. He touted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment without much evidence, and used racist misnomers like “Chinese virus,” or “kung flu” to push blame onto a foreign country – a time-tested move from the populist handbook.
“The president needed to use the pandemic in a way that would minimize it,” Dan Romer, research director at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, told Insider. “His point of view was, ‘let’s get the economy rolling,’ because his ace in the hole for the election was that the economy was doing quite well.”
Thomas Jepsen, a 28-year-old who was born in Denmark then moved to Raleigh, North Carolina in 2016, said he used to believe China had deliberately released the virus into the population. The pandemic, he thought, was China’s way of teaching Trump a lesson.
“I just saw it as extremely well-timed to disrupt an election,” he told Insider.
That was before Jepsen got COVID-19 himself.
Many Americans saw scientists as in the pockets of ‘big pharma’
A June 2020 survey from the Pew Research Center found that one quarter of US adults believed at the time that there was some truth to the idea that powerful people intentionally planned the coronavirus outbreak. Conspiracy theories like these can make people feel like they have a valuable secret in circumstances they can’t control, Schwarz said.
“It gives you a certain sense of superiority,” he said. “You are ‘in the know,’ and these other guys are just sheep who get fooled.”
Moch said she heard North Dakotans claim that hospitals wanted people to test positive for COVID-19 so they could admit them and make money. Another common refrain, she said, was that doctors had a financial incentive to falsely attribute deaths to COVID-19.
Schwarz said he’d encountered similar distrust of doctors years before the pandemic – in focus groups ahead of the 2016 presidential election. One response stood out, he said: “‘Why am I with Trump?’ some guy says, ‘Because I’m sick and tired of my doctor speaking down to me.'”
Jepsen said the nature of the US healthcare system bred distrust on his part.
“You just feel like you’re being thrown around from a system to a system, filling out papers,” he said. “Then eventually you’re seen by a doctor for about seven minutes and 15 seconds before they tell you exactly what you knew already.”
That impression, he added, made it easy to believe that the coronavirus wasn’t as deadly as scientists suggested – and that masks, by extension, were unnecessary. Pharmaceutical companies, he reasoned, were in on it too, in order to profit off vaccines and treatments.
“I saw a lot of big pharma companies potentially standing to gain from mass fear,” Jepsen said.
A lack of clear, consistent messaging didn’t help
In October, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator at the time, visited Moch’s city of Bismark. In a rare public indictment, Birx said the city had the worst coronavirus protocols she had ever seen and urged residents to utilize masks and social distancing.
But Moch said that for the most part, people paid Birx little attention. That could be, in part, a result of the federal government’s inconsistent messaging. Until April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraged the public from wearing masks, partly to save them for healthcare workers. One study estimated that requiring masks for public-facing workers in the US starting March 14 could have saved 34,000 lives.
“It’s easy to criticize the public-health community in this particular case,” Romer said. “I don’t think they do as good a job of explaining to the public why they’re making recommendations. And if you don’t explain it well, then – big surprise – people don’t necessarily buy it and that makes them susceptible to alternative explanations.”
Changing CDC guidelines sparked confusion again just last month, when the agency announced that vaccinated people could ditch their masks indoors and outdoors, after months of slow-moving recommendations that discouraged vaccinated people from traveling, going maskless, or seeing unvaccinated friends and family.
Of course, communicating the science of a new virus isn’t easy. But Moch said many Bismark residents lost trust in the CDC, and by extension other public-health officials.
“Usually even if there is consensus in science, there is dispute,” Schwarz said. “That means for many people that scientists don’t know what they’re doing.”
The Fauci backlash
Few scientists have endured more rampant backlash than Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci revealed in August that he and his family had received death threats and that his three daughters had been harassed. He got a security detail.
“‘Fauci is like Hitler.’ ‘Fauci has blood on his hands.’ Are you kidding me?” Fauci told Kara Swisher, host of the New York Times’ “Sway” podcast, this week. “I mean, anybody who is just thinking about this in a dispassionate way has got to say, what the heck are those people talking about? Here’s a guy whose entire life has been devoted to saving lives, and now you’re telling me he’s like Hitler? Come on, folks. Get real.”
But in many ways, Fauci is the embodiment of the scientific establishment: Erudite, measured, and careful with his words.
It was very easy to fall into the camp of believing that Fauci’s just a big fat liar.
“When I listen to Fauci, I can see how he talks to the public, while also having in the back of his mind his scientific colleagues who may frown at him if he overstates the confidence that he has in anything,” Schwarz said. “You can see Fauci being tripped up by the scientists in his head.”
Trump, by contrast, relied on a simple message that never changed: that the virus wasn’t a major threat.
“Every time something is easier to process, you’re more likely to believe it,” Schwarz said, adding, “The more often you repeat things and the more others agree in your network, the more true it becomes.”
Jepsen, who identifies as a libertarian, said he at one point considered Fauci a puppet for pharmaceutical companies.
“It was very easy to fall into the camp of believing that Fauci’s just a big fat liar,” he said, adding, “if the big pharma companies manage to get a guy like Fauci to tell everyone to take a vaccine, then that’s beneficial for them.”
Just before Christmas, however, Jepsen developed a fairly severe case of COVID-19. He had a fever, struggled to breathe, and would get exhausted from walking up a flight of stairs. He had to cancel his plans to visit his girlfriend’s family for the holidays.
“The wake-up call came from me having the disease myself,” he said. “I felt untouchable previously. I’ll be happy to admit that. Realizing that’s not the case definitely was eye-opening.”
Distrust of scientists probably isn’t going away
Psychologists don’t expect anger toward scientists to disappear anytime soon. Schwarz said that even the threat of physical violence against scientists remains a disturbing possibility.
“It doesn’t take large amounts of people – it only takes a few to have a real risk to scientists,” he said. “And I don’t think that is going to go away. I think that will stay.”
Even after Trump left office, he continued to frame public-health officials as corrupt and conspiratorial – though the US’s vaccines are the products of his administration’s Operation Warp Speed. When reports of rare blood clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson shot surfaced, Trump suggested that the Food and Drug Administration had temporarily paused the J&J rollout “maybe because their friends at Pfizer have suggested it.”
Moch, however, is hopeful that the anti-scientist sentiment she experienced will abate. Many Bismarck residents ultimately acknowledged the threat of the pandemic, she said – albeit after they or their family members got sick.
“The ones that were taking care of patients with COVID, the ones that lost people to COVID, the ones that were severely ill and hospitalized, understand the severity,” Moch said.
Jepsen is among those who’ve had a change of heart. He wears a mask where it’s still required. He’s been vaccinated. He’s even started to warm to Fauci.
“I very much respect Dr. Fauci for the work that he’s doing,” Jepsen said. “But I would not want to be in his shoes because I imagine about half the country probably would want to ship him off to someplace not very pleasant.”