Biden said he tapped Fauci for the job after their first substantive meeting on Thursday, requesting that he continue his role as a top health adviser and to remain on the White House’s coronavirus task force, where he’s served under President Donald Trump since the team was created in January.
“I asked him to stay on the exact same role he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the Covid team,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper during his first joint interview with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Biden also stressed the need to wear face coverings to stem the spread of the virus, saying that he would not only “issue a standing order” mandating masks in certain settings – including federal buildings, buses and airplanes – but also call on the public to wear them for the first 100 days of his administration.
“I think my inclination, Jake, is on the first day I’m inaugurated… I’m going to ask the public for 100 days to mask. Just 100 days to mask, not forever,” he said, arguing that would “drive down the numbers considerably.”
Heading the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Fauci has become a controversial figure among skeptics of government lockdown policies, who’ve driven the “Fire Fauci” slogan to prominence. He has repeatedly drawn the ire of Trump over his less-than-rosy projections amid the pandemic, with the president reportedly dubbing him a “disaster” during an October campaign call.
The health official was further criticized by Trump’s backers after giving an interview to the Washington Post days before the 2020 election, where he praised Biden for “taking [the virus] seriously from a public-health perspective” while suggesting the president was largely concerned with “the economy and reopening the country.” Biden, for his part, said on Thursday that “you don’t have to close down the economy” so long as health officials give “clear guidance” to the public, cutting against a previous pledge to “shut it down” if “the scientists” recommended it.
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