Fauci: Okay... Keeping the Schools Closed Was Probably a Mistake

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Ya think? The sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci of COVID pandemic fame has a new memoir out, describing his "journey in public service." Promoting the book, he's been doing some interviews, including one this week on CBS Mornings. During the interview, the host asked Fauci about his recommendations during the pandemic to close the nation's public schools, a situation that lasted for more than a year in some places. In a rare moment of seeming self-awareness, Fauci admitted that shutting down the schools for that long "was not a good idea." Pressed on the question, Fauci agreed that, in retrospect, the decision was "a mistake." He didn't explicitly express any regrets, but it was the closest we've gotten to an honest answer out of him on this subject thus far. (NY Post)

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top adviser to two presidential administrations during the COVID-19 pandemic, reversed course in a Tuesday interview and agreed that shutting down schools for more than a year due to the virus was a “mistake.”

“Keeping it for a year was not a good idea,” the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil while talking about his new memoir “On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service.”

“So, that was a mistake in retrospect?” Dokoupil asked. “We will not repeat it?”

“Absolutely, yeah,” Fauci responded.

This represents a bit of a change from Fauci's previous statements, including answers he gave during sworn testimony before Congress. He has maintained that closing the schools was the right thing to do, though he always couches his answers with phrases such as, "based on the best evidence we had at the time." But now that he has a book to sell and public sentiment has turned so vigorously against him, his tune seems to be changing.

As recently as October of 2022, Fauci was telling reporters that it would be inaccurate to call the decision to keep the schools closed "a mistake." He was still basing those original decisions on local transmission rates rather than predicted impacts on student health.

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“I don’t want to use the word ‘mistake,’” Fauci told ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl in an October 2022 interview when asked about school closures after announcing his retirement as both White House chief medical adviser and NIAID director.

“If I do, it gets taken out of the context that you’re asking me the question on,” Fauci said. “We should realize — and have realized — that there will be deleterious collateral consequences when you do something like that.”

The CDC guidelines that were in place in 2020 (and forcefully endorsed by Fauci) were ridiculous. Schools were forced to install massively expensive air filtration systems and rearrange desks and chairs to enforce "social distancing." We only learned later that Fauci and his friends had made up the entire idea of social distancing out of whole cloth with absolutely no clinical studies having been done to support its alleged efficacy. As you may recall, Donald Trump was pushing back against those guidelines at the time, but Fauci was fighting him.

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In reality, otherwise healthy children were among the least likely to contract COVID and also the least likely to die or experience severe symptoms. The virus could have spread through the schools in a mostly harmless fashion similar to the flu, leaving behind a population of children who would have had natural herd immunity. Of course, that was during a time when anyone who dared to mention the potential benefits of natural immunity was banned from social media and treated like a pariah, including prominent doctors of virology who were attempting to endorse such a strategy at the time. 

To be clear, the blame can't be laid entirely at Anthony Fauci's feet. COVID was still fairly new back then and nobody really knew for sure how the virus would spread or evolve. But the point is that there were leading doctors in the field who were making the point that COVID didn't appear to be all that much worse than the flu and we could be doing more harm than good with the lockdowns. That debate should have been allowed to take place freely. Instead, the naysayers were silenced, we crashed the economy, and we set a generation of children back in their development by at least a year. Anthony Fauci played a major role in all of that and he shouldn't be allowed to run away from his participation now simply because he's trying to sell some books.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 23, 2024
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