Oh my: Fauci caught unmasking at indoor D.C. event this week?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

We’ve all been waiting for a sign from the experts that the pandemic is really, truly over and it’s time to get back to normal.

I think we’ve found it.

This isn’t just a case of Fauci declining to follow his own public guidance. If true, he was breaking the law. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser lifted the city’s indoor mask mandate a few days ago but that policy won’t take effect until this coming Monday.

Incidents like Gavin Newsom’s French Laundry dinner and the double standard in masking at the Met Gala have led many Americans to believe that the elite view COVID rules as something for the great unwashed to follow, not for them personally. This Politico report about Fauci won’t change any minds:

Mask on, mask off. That [was] the name of the game for ANTHONY FAUCI at JONATHAN KARL’s book party Tuesday night at Café Milano. As gawkers tried to snap pictures of him indoors not wearing a mask, America’s doc would put it on and take it off depending on whom he was around. SALLY QUINN — who’s known Fauci since his days as a young NIH doctor, when he inspired a love interest in one of her erotic novels — asked him why he was at a party with a mask in hand, not on face. “I said, ‘You seem pretty ambivalent about your mask’ because no one else was wearing one,” Quinn told Playbook. “He said, ‘I just decided that if anyone came up that I didn’t know, I would put my mask on.’”

Quinn added that “paparazzi” were surrounding Fauci trying to get that “gotcha moment” of the Covid czar without a mask on. Guests had to show proof of vaccination to enter the party. “He was being safe,” Quinn said in his defense. “He knew everyone was vaccinated. If it was someone we knew, he would trust them, and if it was somebody else, he didn’t.” Another guest observed Fauci’s mask on/mask off dance, but said that the mask was firmly on when he came to the rescue of a guest who had collapsed. We reached out to Fauci via NIH but didn’t hear back Thursday night.

“I don’t need to take precautions because I’m acquainted with this person” is so stupid that I’m struggling to believe Fauci would say it, even though Quinn has no reason to lie. If he wanted to concoct an excuse for eschewing a mask, he could have said that he was recently boosted and therefore at little risk at the moment of being infected or of infecting others. That wouldn’t get him off the hook for breaking D.C.’s rules but it would have the virtue of being true. The idea that you don’t need to worry about being infected when you’re around someone from a different household because you know them personally is completely fatuous. The likely truth: Fauci unmasked around people whom he knew because he assumed they wouldn’t rat him out to the press. He masked up when speaking to people whom he wasn’t sure about.

Evidently he misjudged Quinn.

What makes this breach of protocol worse is that he seems to have ditched his mask on the same day he told CNBC that the country shouldn’t contemplate a “degree of normality” until cases fall below 10,000 daily, a level the U.S. has never reached since March 2020. He’s demanding a “forever pandemic” mentality from the public and then trotting off to Cafe Milano to eat hors d’oeuvres with Washington’s movers and shakers without wearing a mask, in violation of an executive order. Michael Brendan Dougherty puts Fauci’s hopeless benchmark in perspective:

Fauci said that COVID cases may need to fall to 3,300 per day to enable a return to what he called “a degree of normality.”

To put that number in perspective, Ireland had 5,483 new infections reported last Friday, and 89.1 percent of Irish people over the age of twelve have been vaccinated. Ireland has a total population comparable to Alabama’s, just under 5 million. If a nation of 5 million, with that high rate of vaccination, can’t stay under 5,000 new cases a day, what hope does the U.S. have with a population over 330 million?

Or let’s put it another way. Assume that COVID is now endemic — and we will be facing it every year like the common cold and the flu. In a normal year, we experience tens of thousands of symptomatic flu cases per day during flu season. In other words, for the foreseeable future and for as long as we continue to test aggressively for COVID-19, we will still be short of Dr. Fauci’s terms for “a degree of normality.”

What was Fauci thinking? As a matter of pure image management, why take off his mask at the book party knowing there were photographers around and he’d be lambasted for setting a poor example if one managed to snap a pic? Didn’t he get in trouble last year for something like that, in much less risky circumstances?

In lieu of an exit question, go read about Fauci’s office being inundated with irate phone calls about horrific experiments on beagles that his agency was accused of funding. (They didn’t fund the experiments that went viral in righty media but did fund other experiments on dogs.) Sample: “I’d like to take you out in the sand, tie you down, put them fleas all over your a–.” Said Fauci’s boss, Francis Collins, “What’s happening to Dr. Fauci is a very bright, blazing warning sign that we are, as a culture, in a dangerous place, that we have decided that those figures who are highly visible, who are saying things we don’t like, have to be taken down. And even more troubling, that that seems to be working. It’s not a fringe activity anymore.”