Protesters at a Texas demonstration against the state’s lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic took aim at the nation’s top expert in infectious disease, chanting “Fire Fauci” — an apparent reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
As Business Insider reported, the event at the state capitol building in Austin drew dozens of protesters waving American flags and calling for the state to reopen after largely shutting down in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The protest, dubbed “You Can’t Close America” by organizers, was one of a number of events across the country demanding that state leaders remove restrictions put in place last month.
The report noted that the protest drew a number of anti-vaccine advocates as well as those echoing statements from President Donald Trump calling for the reopening of state economies. Trump tweeted messages this week, calling to “liberate” a series of states with Democratic governors, which came after a series of protests across the country. Many at Saturday’s event in Texas held signs supporting Trump.
Video from the demonstration showed organizers leading chants of “Fire Fauci,” calling on Trump to dump the top expert on infectious diseases, who has played a major role in the White House’s coronavirus response. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has advocated for states to keep lockdown measures in place until the spread of the virus has slowed. He’s also recommended that they slowly and carefully begin reopening more businesses and to allow small gatherings of people.
Trump appeared to publicly break with Fauci for the first time last week, retweeting a person who shared a hashtag #FireFauci. This came after a report that Trump ignored early requests from Fauci and other health experts to put in place shutdown recommendations across the country.
Fauci also said in an interview that lives could have been saved if the federal government had acted sooner.
“Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives,” Fauci said, via Business Insider. “Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated.”
“As I’ve said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint. We make a recommendation. Often the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it’s not. But it is what it is. We are where we are right now.”
Though Trump’s retweet of the call to fire Fauci drew controversy, the White House later clarified that there were no plans to fire him.
Texas contact tracers may find this video useful some day soon, sadly https://t.co/R0uIvehJMK
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 18, 2020
Still, the Texas protest showed that many Trump supporters appeared to be apprehensive toward the top NIH doctor and his recommendation to keep shutdowns in place.