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Dr. Fauci Didn't Wait to Accept Biden's Offer to Join COVID-19 Team: 'Said Yes Right on the Spot'

Sean Neumann
·2-min read

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci will continue to be crucial to America's coronavirus response plan, President-elect Joe Biden announced on Thursday.

The nation’s leading infectious disease expert will join Biden as his chief medical adviser for the administration’s COVID-19 team — a similar role to the one Fauci had been sidelined from in President Donald Trump’s administration this year.

Fauci, who was named one 2020’s People of the Year, will also continue to serve as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a position he’s served in since the Reagan administration in the late 1980s.

“I said yes right on the spot,” Fauci, 79, told the Today show on Friday morning of being the chief medical adviser.

JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images President-elect Joe Biden

Fauci was never officially fired from his role in the Trump administration, though the president publicly threatened to remove the longtime government scientist from his NIAID post and broke off communication with the health official for weeks at a time during the pandemic.

The two men appeared to often disagree on prevention efforts like wearing masks, limiting gatherings, and economic shutdowns.

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Trump’s on-again, off-again relationship with the top doctor was one of many issues in the administration's muddled handling of the pandemic, with the president often spouting misinformation and downplaying the virus despite knowing the danger of the pandemic.

At least 276,375 people in the U.S. have died from COVID, according to a New York Times tracker, while more than 14.2 million have tested positive as of Friday morning.

Win McNamee/Getty Images President Donald Trump (left) and Dr. Anthony Fauci during a coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 31.

“You have a devastating public health challenge in the midst of a very divisive society, in a very hotly-contested political year. You put all of those ingredients together and it's been quite challenging,” Fauci told PEOPLE in this week's issue.

“This is a tough situation,” the doctor doubled-down on Friday while speaking on Today, again warning Americans to take health and safety precautions as cases and death tolls rise around the country this winter.

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Fauci and Biden are already united on prevention efforts, with the health official telling Today he agrees with Biden’s proposal to enforce a 100-day mask-wearing mandate across the country once the president-elect takes office in late January.

Simply, Fauci said, “it’s a good idea.”