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Dr. Anthony Fauci discussing White House coronavirus task force

Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

This week, Republicans in Congress are slamming the COVID-19 safety guidelines recommended by top infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci — even as COVID positivity rates soar and hospitals nationwide face dangerous overcrowding.

On Sunday night, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) attacked Fauci on Twitter, saying his "fantasies" have led to "the extinction of all our freedoms."

"Almost everything Fauci has said this year has been exaggerated, misleading, and/or flat-out wrong. He is not to be trusted under any circumstances," tweeted Biggs, linking to a New York Times interview with Fauci about required herd immunity rates. "Americans must reject his doctrine of destruction before his fantasies lead to the extinction of all of our freedoms."

In the interview, Fauci said that while he has previously stated that 60 percent to 70 percent of the American population required vaccination in order for the country to achieve herd immunity, he really thinks that number could be as high as 90 percent.

The Times reported that Fauci has been adjusting the figure over time based on the latest scientific findings and also his concern at how the public would react to the numbers.

"We need to have some humility here," Fauci told the Times. "We really don't know what the real number is. I think the real range is somewhere between 70 to 90 percent. But, I'm not going to say 90 percent."

But, he said, he's increased the goal vaccination rate incrementally, since he now feels the American public is ready to hear the fuller picture — that the safest route to eradicating coronavirus is for a higher number of Americans to be vaccinated.

His comments drew more ire from his frequent critics on the right.

Biggs, for one, lashed out at Fauci and the science surrounding coronavirus in general. Demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of herd immunity, on Monday he denied the existence of asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

"Many of the COVID-19 testing policies revolve around the notion that asymptomatic people are unknowingly spreading COVID-19 to many others," he wrote on the platform. "Or maybe most of them aren't. Maybe the asymptomatic 'doctrine' wasn't everything the 'experts' told you it was.

But recent studies have repeatedly shown that 40 to 50 percent of those testing positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms, and leading experts have noted that this has played a huge role in the pandemic's spread.

And Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also came under fire this weekend for criticizing the science underlying COVID guidelines and vaccine protocols, as well as for claiming Fauci "lied" to Americans and was "distorting" information about vaccines.

"Dr. Fauci lied about masks in March," Rubio tweeted. "Dr. Fauci has been distorting the level of vaccination needed for herd immunity. It isn't just him. Many in elite bubbles believe the American public doesn't know 'what's good for them' so they need to be tricked into 'doing the right thing'."

Critics were swift to note that Rubio's remarks undercutting the importance of vaccines in achieving herd immunity came after the senator was among the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

And while Fauci did recommend against the wearing of masks in March, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommending mask-wearing were not implemented until April as experts came to understand more about the disease.

And Biggs and Rubio's remarks undermining the importance of vaccines and other safety protocols are ill-timed, coming as American hospitals face overcrowding of epic proportions due to the pandemic.

In parts of California, including Los Angeles County, doctors have warned that they will soon have no room for other patients because they are so inundated by COVID-19 patients.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat this. We are getting crushed," said Dr. Brad Spellberg, LAC and USC Medical Center's chief medical officer.

Earlier this month, hospitals in eastern Tennessee had only 8 of their 284 ICU hospital beds unoccupied.

A December report by The Atlantic noted that patients in Laredo, Texas, were being sent to San Antonio hospitals and other Texans sent to Oklahoma as their own hospitals filled up; and that in South Dakota, 37 hospitals reported sending patients home with oxygen tanks because they ran out of room in the hospital for the most desperate cases.

"Calamity is no longer imminent; it is here," the outlet noted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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