Dr. Fauci is going into self-quarantine over potential coronavirus exposure

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has become a familiar, comforting presence to Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on for weeks now.
  • Fauci, who’s also the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is currently preparing to quarantine himself after possibly coming into exposure with a White House staffer who’s tested positive for the coronavirus.
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The health expert who’s become the public face of the US response to the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is preparing to begin what he describes as a “modified” self-quarantine after potentially coming into contact with the novel coronavirus.

Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in addition to being a member of the White House coronavirus task force, is doing so after telling CNN that he’s made a “low risk” contact with an unnamed White House staffer who’s tested positive for the virus. What makes this news disconcerting is that two additional chiefs of federal health agencies playing a role in the coronavirus response — Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration — are now doing the same.

All three say they’re beginning a self-quarantine after exposure to an unnamed White House staffer. And while it’s not clear if they’re all referring to the same person, it was disclosed on Friday that Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller, a frequent presence in White House coronavirus task force meetings, has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Fauci’s disclosure is noteworthy because he’s describing his quarantine as “modified” and not a full self-quarantine, because of his belief that he hasn’t been too close to the infected staffer during the time this staffer would have been positive for the virus. As part of the steps he’s taking, Fauci is planning to stay at home and work remotely for 14 days, but he’s told reporters he may venture to his office at the NIH in a way that won’t bring him into contact with anyone else. He’s also undergoing testing for the coronavirus daily (he’s been tested once this weekend already, and it came back negative).

Lamar Alexander, a Republican Senator from Tennessee, confirms that Fauci, Redfield, and Hahn are scheduled to testify at a coronavirus hearing this week. As of now, Fauci will be there in person but will wear a mask (the other two health chiefs will testify remotely via video).

CNN notes that the White House sent out an email to staffers on Friday, the same day Miller’s diagnosis was confirmed, titled “Strong Precautions We Are Taking.” The note stresses the importance of teleworking, but says nothing about wearing masks.

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