Every crisis breeds an unlikely TV star, and, thankfully, the media presence of National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci provides ours. As the coronavirus continues to do truly terrible things to the entire globe, the indefatigable Fauci counters by making the rounds of seemingly every broadcast that will have him, disseminating actual, factual medical information about the virus in his unflappably no-nonsense manner. And while we say “indefatigable,” the good doctor laid out just how actually fatigue-inducing it is being the number one most trusted and in-demand COVID-19 expert in America when he appeared (as ever, remotely, from a societally responsible distance) on Monday’s Desus & Mero.
Explaining that he’s getting about four hours of sleep a night these trying days, Fauci told the homebound hosts that the sheer amount of information he’s processing, analyzing, and relaying concerning the virus is “kind of like drinking out of a firehose.” From accepting virtually every invitation from, say, a couple of Bronx-born talk show hosts, to patiently yet firmly differentiating between coronavirus fact and fiction (he hadn’t heard the apparently real, incontrovertibly lunatic rumor about the disease being cause by 5G antennae, but, c’mon), to doing his actual work at the National Institute Of Health, to—and here’s where it gets hard, one imagines—explaining all this to Donald Trump every day, Fauci told the Bodega Boys he’s literally working from dawn ’til, well, dawn. Not that he’s burnt out, as Fauci explained how, as advisor to now six presidents, he’s led the immunological charge against everything from HIV to ebola, to this new and deceptively pernicious disease that’s got Desus talking from inside his stocked sneaker closet and Mero doing the same from his basement. (Dominican flag dutifully and proudly hung in the background.)
But who’s complaining? Not the doggedly professional Fauci, as he, once again, dodged any attempts by the hosts to get him to introduce politics into the discussion. Mero tried to get Fauci to chime in on being “the smartest person in the room” at Donald Trump’s criminally misleading and self-exculpating press conferences, but no dice. To the question of which of the six presidents under which he’s served is the coolest, Fauci smilingly announced, “There’s not a chance in the world I’m gonna answer that one.” Man, it’s almost like the guy only cares about saving human lives and not playing politics while people die, or something. (He did brighten up when the guys asked the Brooklyn-born doctor about his favorite Yankees memory, his eyes lighting up as he recalled that long-ago thing called baseball.)
However, in simply answering the hosts’ relatably pressing questions about symptoms, prevention, and prognoses with unwavering candor, Fauci serves as a living rebuttal to a whole lot of the Trump administration’s blame-dodging, glad-handing, press-baiting bullshit. Apart from that seriously bananas 5G thing, Fauci deftly debunked that whole “open by Easter” idea, noting that, as both a medical expert and a functional human being, the real course of action there is “don’t prematurely open things up” and cause an immediate rebound in cases. And while Fauci didn’t expressly mention the utilitarian chant of the conservative death cult calling for the sacrifice of a few hundred thousand people in order to jump start Wall Street, he did say, feelingly, that “You have, literally, a societal responsibility to protect the vulnerable” by following actual, altruistic professionals’ advice and flattening the curve on the disease’s impact by staying inside. And, of course, washing your damned hands, as Fauci expressed in his own patented Desus & Mero neon sign sign-off.