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Top U.S. coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci forced to beef up security as death threats increase
Published Thursday, April 2, 2020 9:02AM EDT Last Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020 9:09AM EDT
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top medical expert on the coronavirus pandemic and a member of U.S. President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, is facing threats to his personal safety and now requires personal security from law enforcement at all times, including at his home, a source confirms to CNN.
A law enforcement official told CNN that the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General, the agency's law enforcement arm, asked the US Marshals Service for assistance following threats to Fauci. The Marshals then deputized HHS officers to act as personal security for the doctor.
The Washington Post first reported the threats to Fauci and the increased security.
A source also confirmed to CNN last week the presence of several members of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department stationed at all times around Fauci's home in the district. The source added the stepped up visible police presence was a response to growing threats to Fauci's safety, though the source of the threats was not identified.
During the White House coronavirus task force briefing with reporters on Wednesday, Fauci was asked whether he or White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who also serves on the task force, had received threats of any kind or whether they had been assigned a security detail. He said he was not able to answer.
"Anything that has to do with security detail I would have to have you (ask your question) to the inspector general of HHS," he said, referencing the Department of Health and Human Services.
Fauci's response was quickly interrupted by Trump, who stepped up to the podium to say the nation's most visible infectious disease expert doesn't require protection.
"(He) doesn't need security, everybody loves them," said Trump. "Besides that, they'd be in big trouble if they ever attacked."
However, as Fauci's profile in the pandemic crisis has grown, so has the concern for his welfare. Fauci's guidance to Trump for the country to remain as locked down as possible to help control the virus spread has not earned fans among some fervent right-wing voices.
Fauci was among the health advisers on Trump's team encouraging a continuation of the current guidelines after the President heard from business leaders and some conservative allies that the restrictions were more damaging than the virus itself.
In fact, Trump's decision to extend those guidelines came after Fauci and Birx gave a strong presentation with the new models that showed 100,000 to 200,000 people could die, a source familiar with the President's decision told CNN.
"You don't make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline," Fauci told CNN last month when asked about how long the novel coronavirus could affect daily life in the US.
"You may see in a relatively shorter period of time, when you're seeing the inkling of the flattening and coming down," he said in reference to slowing the speed of the outbreak. "But you know, you can't make an arbitrary decision until you see what you're dealing with. You need the data."