Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has criticized President Donald Trump’s administration over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic during a videochat with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases.
Speaking with Fauci in a Facebook live video on Thursday, Zuckerberg said some outbreaks of coronavirus were ‘avoidable’ and criticized the administration for ‘calling into question’ whether people should wear masks.
‘Our government, and this administration, have been significantly less effective in handling this,’ Zuckerberg said, comparing the recent surge in U.S. cases to other countries that have seen falling new cases.
‘You know, I was certainly sympathetic early on when it was clear that there would be some outbreaks no matter how well we handle this,’ Zuckerberg said.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) criticized the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic during a videochat with Dr. Anthony Fauci (right)
‘But now that we’re here in July, I just think that it was avoidable and it’s really disappointing that we still don’t have adequate testing, that the credibility of the top scientists like yourself and the CDC is being undermined, and that until recently, parts of the administration were calling into question whether people should even follow basic best practices like wearing masks,’ he continued.
Fauci responded by acknowledging the recent surge in some parts of the country is ‘really quite disturbing,’ noting that other regions, such as New York, have made great strides in containing the outbreak.
A number of states, including Florida, Arizona, Texas and California, have seen new cases rising swiftly in recent weeks.
Texas set another single-day record for coronavirus deaths on Thursday, reporting 129 new deaths, as July remains by far the state’s deadliest month of the pandemic.
In the conversation with Zuckerberg, Fauci implored younger people to continue social distancing and other measures to curtail spread of the virus.
‘Please assume the societal responsibility of being part of the solution, not part of the problem,’ he said.
‘You have to have responsibility for yourself but also a societal responsibility that you’re getting infected is not just you in a vacuum. You’re propagating the pandemic,’ he said.
Social media platforms including Facebook, which in April removed ‘pseudoscience’ as an option for advertisers, have been criticized for allowing the spread of misinformation about the pandemic, from bogus cures to wide-ranging conspiracy theories.
New U.S. cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have climbed to over 60,000 a day from daily totals under 20,000 in May.
The median age of those infected has fallen by about 15 years as younger people, many of whom may show few symptoms of illness, are being infected, Fauci said.
Vice President Mike Pence warned last month that roughly half of the new cases in the U.S. were people under the age of 35, particularly in Florida and Texas.
Fauci cautioned that even asymptomatic people can spread the coronavirus to others, increasing the likelihood that the virus could infect a more vulnerable person.
He said some states have moved forward with reopening even though they did not meet guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In other states ‘the citizenry … put caution to the wind,’ he said, citing photos showing people congregating at bars without face coverings.
‘We have to regroup,’ Fauci said, noting that some regions of the country are much less at risk than others.
He urged people to wear face coverings, avoid crowds, maintain social distance and remember that being outdoors is always better than being indoors.
‘We should be looking at public health measures as a vehicle or a gateway to getting the economy back,’ he said.