White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci claimed Monday that he never recommended "locking anything down" when pressed about what he would do differently regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Go back and look at my statements," he added, "that we need to do everything we can to keep the schools open and safe."
Although it's unclear exactly what Fauci meant by lockdowns, in October 2020, Fauci had publicly recommended that former President Donald Trump "shut the whole country down," although it's not clear what he meant as presidents don't have the authority to hand down sweeping lockdowns.
Closing Schools and BarsIn August 2020, Fauci said that public schools should remain closed across the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Fauci also publicly suggested multiple times in 2020 that bars and restaurants should remain closed, then arguing that there was a binary choice between opening schools or bars.
"You have a choice—either close the bars or close the schools. Because, if you have people congregating in bars, it's likely you're going to stay red," the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in November 2020.
Also during the interview with The Hill, Fauci said there should have been “much more stringent restrictions” imposed on asymptomatic people in 2020.
“We know now, two and a half years later, that anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of the transmission occur from someone without symptoms, either someone who never will get symptoms or someone who is in the pre-symptomatic stage,” he said.
“Had we known that then, the insidious nature of spread in the community would have been much more of an alarm and there would have been much, much more stringent restrictions in the sense of very, very heavy, encouraging people to wear masks, physical distancing or what have you,” added Fauci, who again called for mask-wearing in schools, workplaces, and "anything that brings people together in a closed environment" in some areas.